In what might be a pretty startling statistic for those who are not part of the health professions, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that just ten different diseases are responsible for a full 84 percent of all hospital visits and all complications among patients once they have been admitted to the hospital.
In a world where it seems like health threats are increasing by the day, this list of potential viral infections and microbial ailments has remained remarkably consistent over the course of the past few decades. To get a better understanding of the human immune system, as well as the way hospitals are setup to deal with these problems, it’s worth reviewing each of these ten diseases and how they manifest themselves in a stunning 84 percent of common cases.
Noroviruses are generally called “the flu” by many patients, most of whom believe that the symptoms of the resulting gastroenteritis are somehow linked to influenza itself. Norovirus infections typically result in diarrhea, vomiting, and the long-lasting feeling of an upset stomach. Though these symptoms are exceedingly unpleasant, and may last for several days at a time, healthcare professionals cannot treat them with antibiotic drugs. Patients, therefore, are advised to make sure that they attempt to eat meals at regular intervals, and they’re advised to stay hydrated so that the body does not suffer through the effects of dehydration after a few days of symptoms.
2. Mycobacterium abscessus
One of the most serious sources of hospital acquired infections is mycobacterium abscessus. This bacterium is generally known to be the cause of such serious illnesses as leprosy and tuberculosis, and it can be found in any number of compounds. The bacteria have been known to exist in soil, dust, or water, and it has even been known to infect medications and to reside on medical equipment. This represents a very serious concern in today’s busiest medical environments, and many hospitals have procedures in place specifically to prevent against the spread of this bacteria and the potential infection of new patients who come to the hospital with other ailments.
If infection from this bacteria does result, patients are most likely to notice irritable infections of the skin and soft tissues, though a slight minority may actually experience lung infections that can be quite serious and severe. Medical treatment is almost always required for a full and quick recovery from any kind of mycobacterium abscessus infection.
Another very serious source of hospital acquired infections is the bacteria known as Klebsiella. This gram-negative bacteria almost always infects patients after a visit to the hospital, as it seems to be particularly at home on medical equipment in patient treatment areas. Infection by this bacteria can result in a number of serious ailments, including an infection of the bloodstream, infection of any open wounds or surgical sites, or the onset of a very serious form of pneumonia. Treatment is generally quick and straightforward, although some antimicrobial strains of the bacteria have required added research and more serious forms of treatment in a small minority of today’s patients.
Without a doubt, one of the most common and persistent types of viral infection is influenza. The disease comes and goes with varying degrees of potency every year but most medical professionals estimate that between 5 percent and 20 percent of the American population is infected each year. Influenza is also responsible for annual hospitalization of as many as 200,000 Americans. Typically, those hospitalized by the disease are those at the extreme young or old ends of the spectrum, though it’s not entirely unheard of for healthy, young adult sufferers to experience complications. This community-based virus is easy to contract, especially when cases have been cited near the hospital’s location during the height of what is known as “flu season.”
5. Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an infection that results from a common form of bacteria more widely called just Pseudomonas. The infection is quite common in medical settings, though it targets a specific group of people. In almost every case, a bout of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is found in those patients who are already experiencing vastly weakened or suppressed immune systems as a result of a larger medical condition during their stay in a medical environment or long-term care facility. Treatment of this bacterial infection is generally pursed through the prescription of high dosage antibiotics, and the problem generally eases within 24 to 48 hours of first treatment.
6. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
Abbreviated as MRSA, this staph bacteria has evolved over time to become immune to many of the most popular antibacterial drugs. Indeed, MRSA can often not be treated with either penicillin or amoxicillin, with most patients requiring higher doses of more nontraditional antibiotics in order to defeat the condition. It often manifests itself in the form of a skin infection in most patients, and should be treated by a medical professional as soon as any signs or symptoms have been noticed by the patient. Staph bacteria does represent one of the most aggressive bacterial threats to the human body.
7. Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci
VRE is so named because this bacterial infection is resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin. Infections of this nature are most common in medical settings, especially when a patient is admitted to the hospital for long-term care and nursing. Most sufferers experience symptoms that affect the intestines, which can result in a case of upset stomach, minor vomiting, or even occasional diarrhea. The good news for those suffering from this bacterial infection, though, is that treatment is rather quick and easy with alternative antibiotics in heavier doses.
8. Tuberculosis (TB)
Most often, the transmission of tuberculosis in medical and nursing environments is done on a patient-to-patient basis. Typically, this is because one patient with the disease is simply not isolated from the rest of the hospital’s population. In other cases, it’s because the patient simply was not aware that they suffered from TB at the time of their admission to the facility. Most forms of TB can be treated and minimized, though particularly aggressive strains of the disease have shown a great deal of resistance to antibiotics that are typically used to treat the condition.
9. Vancomycin-intermediate or Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
Known in the medical community as either VISA or VRSA, these two diseases are actually quite common among those patients who have medical equipment attached to their body on a long-term or permanent basis. Those with kidney problems are particularly predisposed to infection, as are those patients who commonly use a catheter tube before, during, or after some kind of serious surgery.
The two forms of staphylococcus are so named because they are moderately or entirely resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin. Treatment can be conducted using other antibiotic drugs, however, and most patients are able to recover from this infection when it is caught early, treated effectively, and prevented on a proactive basis going forward. Unlike viral infections, however, bacterial infections can occur again at any time. For this reason, increased vigilance is urged of those who are connected to medical devices that penetrate the skin, enter the body, and assist with daily functions like kidney function, urination, and many others.
10. Staphylococcus aureus
In what might be the least invasive and least concerning disease commonly found in hospitals, Staphylococcus aureus is actually present in just under one third of the entire population. The condition is associated with negative effects on the skin, as it is typically a skin infection. The side effects of the disease most often manifest themselves in small, pimple-like growths that ebb and flow over the course of the infection. Treatment with antibiotics is effective in virtually every case, and this less severe form of staphylococcus can be eradicated in just a few days after treatment has commenced.
Plenty of Threats: A Bacterial or Viral Infection is All Too Common
The very nature of today’s hospitals means that patients are exposed more than ever to the potential for both viral and bacterial infections, placing their health at risk in at least ten ways during every visit. The good news is that virtually every common infection or disease transmitted at today’s hospitals can be treated with either extended vigilance or a robust dose of antibiotics. In fact, many of these diseases are considered relatively minor in the grand scheme of hospital infections and the diseases treated at today’s medical centers.
Even so, it’s a good idea for patients to be vigilant during their next visit to a nearby hospital, long-term care facility, or even a family practice clinic. The cleanliness of the facility is especially worth noting, with regular disinfecting of medical supplies and surfaces being the key to the long-tern health of patients. Furthermore, those patients who are admitted for long-term care in a hospital or other facility should perform due diligence to make sure that they, and their nurses, are keeping everything clean and free of disease. With great care, great cleanliness, and long-term vigilance, these ten common diseases can be avoided altogether.