Illinois First State to Pursue 'Super Bug' Bill

Responding to a drug-resistant bacteria that kills thousands of Americans annually, Illinois is likely to be the first state to mandate an aggressive hospital testing and treatment program to try contain the so-called super bug.

A bill moving through the state legislature would make Illinois the first state to require hospitals to test and treat intensive-care and “at-risk” patients for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, reports the Chicago Tribune. An estimated 2 percent to 4 percent of admitted patients are carriers of MRSA, but show no symptoms.

Experts agree more could and should be done to prevent an estimated 5,000 to 17,000 deaths annually from MRSA. However, there is disagreement about the best approach, as well as unhappiness about legislators telling hospitals how to run their operations.

MRSA surveillance is “an important tool I want to be able to use, but I don’t want to be told where and when I have to use it,” says Dr. Stephen Weber, a doctor at the University of Chicago Medical Center who specializes in infectious diseases.

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