Silver treatment cures antibiotic-resistant staph infection


By Karen Cohilas
WALB-TV10, Albany, New York
Friday, November 2, 2007

An Albany man survived the "superbug" thanks to an unusual treatment.

He got the infection on his face, possibly after he cut himself shaving. Doctors told him he would need immediate surgery to remove a part of skin infected with the drug-resistant staph, but he found an alternative route.

A quick shave and Bryan Spell and his wife Ruth were on their way out of town. "We were headed to Mobile and I noticed after I shaved that there's a bump there."

A bump that caused him in a lot of pain. "There is definitely something wrong here," he said about the bump. "This has got to come off." The next morning it was worse. "By Monday when we got back, it was so swollen it felt like I was choking."

Bryan saw a doctor for a culture and a few days later lab results proved it was antibiotic-resistant staph. The doctor wanted him to have surgery that afternoon. But Denise Wang, who works with Intrepid Home Healthcare, had a suggestion for Bryan to try before he had surgery -- a silicone patch with silver. So Bryan asked the doctor.

Bryan said, "That afternoon we asked him about it and he said, 'Well, it could work. We don't really see where it would hurt.'"

Wang, also a nurse said, "It's good to try other less-invasive, more cost-efficient methods and it worked very efficiently. No hospital visits and he was back to work in three days."

The silver in the $15 patch killed the infection, and the sore quickly healed, saving Bryan any more pain, and any costs related to surgery and hospitalization.

You see, Bryan doesn't have health insurance.

"When they rechecked me," he said, "that's when they said the staph was out and everything seemed to have come out." Now he's left with a scar but no hospital bills and he's holding on to a couple extra patches. Just in case.

Of course, you should always contact your doctor if you suspect you have any type of staph infection. It can be deadly if not treated in time. But you may want to ask about alternative therapies, like silver patches that could treat the area.

The patch used was made by Molnlycke Healthcare of Sweden and is called Mepilex Ag.

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