The Top 10 Health Stories of 2006
Vaccines, Unsafe Food, Inhaled Insulin: WebMD Picks the Most Important Medical News of the Year
6. MRSA Infection: A Growing Problem
Dangerous, drug-resistant staph infections are a huge problem for hospitals.
That problem is getting worse. But the big news this year is that the
infections are spreading outside the hospital.
The bad bug is called MRSA -- methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus
aureus, named for an important antibiotic that usually kills staph
It doesn't kill this one. Neither do other traditional antibiotics. And now
seen in city emergency rooms.
Researchers call this bug community-acquired MRSA. The good news is that
there are still antibiotics that work against it. And many patients get over
the infection simply by having their boils or abscesses cut open and drained by
a doctor -- don't try this at home.
The bad news is that many
. Some scientists think as the bad bug evolves into a worse bug. Already -- in rare
cases -- .
Scientists are hard at work on an
. But that's
years away. Meanwhile, MRSA infections are popping up all over -- as seen in a
CDC report of .
7. Plan B Morning-After Pill Goes Over the Counter
When a woman's first-choice method of birth control, there's themorning-after pill.
There are two morning-after pills -- Plan B and Preven. To prevent pregnancy, these
emergency contraceptives must be used soon after intercourse.
That's less of a problem, thanks to this year's FDA approval of over-the-counter sales
of Plan B.
The approval has some strings attached. Only stores staffed by a health
professional can sell Plan B without a prescription. And women under age 18
still need a doctor's prescription.
Plan B cannot cause an abortion. If taken too late, women who become
pregnant after taking Plan B have normal pregnancies.
When taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, Plan B prevents
pregnancy about 99% of the time.
Plan B is even more effective when taken within 24 hours of intercourse.
Obviously, over-the-counter availability makes this more likely for more women
who choose not to become pregnant.