Media and MRSA

I find it interesting to read media accounts of MRSA infections. I'm not sure if it's denialism of science, trying to stir up ratings or just plain ignorance, but it's surprising the way the media portrays certain types of infections, especially MRSA. Take for example the sad story of singer Etta James and her battle with Alzheimers and now apparently MRSA. CNN said she was "diagnosed with MRSA -- a bacterial infection resistant to many antibiotics." So far, so good. The Guardian says she is "suffering from a blood infection and the MRSA superbug" while the CBC says "She is fighting the superbug known as MRSA — a bacterial infection resistant to many antibiotics." My favorite is the music website that said that she "has contracted the potentially-deadly MRSA virus since first undergoing treatment."

So we have a bacteria, a suberbug and a virus. Which sounds scarier? I would say superbug, then virus then bacteria. In any case, these representations or social representations of MRSA have been used by the media since at least the 1990's to spread fear and assign blame. This topic will become a recurring theme of my posts surrounding a talk I'll give at the 5th Decennial in Atlanta at the end of March.

By the way - how is this information getting out about Ms. James? HIPAA?


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