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Don't panic, but MRSA afflicts 94,000


Staphylococcus aureus

, we learned, causes perhaps 94,000 serious infections each year, and nearly 19,000 deaths.

And growing.

Who knew? (Doctors did, actually.)

The numbers on MRSA - essentially a regular old staph infection that's resistant to first-line antibiotics - caused a few days of mild (and unnecessary) panic. But scientists were glad that word was out about antibiotic resistance. It has been accelerated by overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals.

Other trends:

Rates of heart failure and death in heart-attack patients in hospitals worldwide have been cut nearly in half in six years. Researchers credit the physicians and organizations that pushed updated treatment guidelines - things like prescribing statin drugs to lower cholesterol, and administering aspirin quickly after a heart attack.

Sexually transmitted diseases hit a record high. More than one million cases of chlamydia were reported in the United States last year. Gonorrhea rates are rising again, and more cases are resistant to common antibiotics. Syphilis is up as well, here and in Europe.

Teen births rose last year for the first time since 1991. Some experts said abstinence-only sex-ed programs were to blame.

The average cholesterol level for American adults is within the normal range for the first time in nearly 50 years. And adult obesity rates may be leveling off, although more years are needed to show a trend.

- Don Sapatkin