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A frightful fight

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Posted: Sunday, July 1, 2007 10:00 pm

As he has for years, Josh Redding took advantage of a recent warm weekend to go wakeboarding in the Delta.

The 28-year-old Galt resident woke up the next morning and noticed that his leg was sore and slightly swollen.

"I went through the day thinking it would get better. I mowed the yard, did normal things," he said.

It didn't get better.

Within days, the Lodi police officer found himself with IVs attached to his body in a hospital, where he spent four days. Doctors diagnosed him with a particular staph infection that's notorious for its ability to withstand antibiotics.

The infection's long name is Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureusor, though most doctors and patients simply use the MRSA acronym. It infects the blood and, if left untreated, leads to pneumonia and even death.

After pumping a number of antibiotics through his body, Redding is no longer a fan of the Delta. He's even thinking of selling his boat, because he doesn't want anything similar happening to his 4-year-old son.

MRSA was originally confined to nursing homes and hospitals, but it has now become so common in everyday environments that the Centers for Disease Control has a whole section of its Web site dedicated to the infection.

Lodi Police Officer Josh Redding stands next to his ski boat. Redding was recently hospitalized from an infection he got after wake-boarding in the Delta. (Whitney Ramirez/News-Sentinel)

"We have a lot of people devoting a lot of time to MRSA," said Shelly Diaz, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based CDC.

In hospitals and nursing homes, 1.7 million people contract MRSA annually, resulting in 98,987 deaths each year, Diaz said.

The biggest problem, Diaz and other health officials said, is that the infection is immune to many forms of antibiotics.

"We used to treat it with common antibiotics, but now we've switched to having to assume that you've got a resistant strain," said Richard Buys, director of the emergency department at San Joaquin General Hospital.

"It's sort of the bind we've gotten ourselves into by having antibiotics out there and so commonly used, that it's building up a resistance," Buys added.

There are no specific statistics on the infection's spread because it is not among a variety of diseases and illnesses - such as TB - that health care providers must report to the CDC.

The instances of MRSA have likely risen in San Joaquin County, but there's no way of backing it up with solid data, said Dr. Karen Furst, health officer for the county.

As for whether the Delta is hazardous, Furst pointed out that MRSA is typically transferred through contact. However, she added, any public waterway has the potential to cause problems.

"Natural waterways are not swimming pools where the water is chlorinated and filtered, and it is very possible for people to get infections, especially if they have scrapes or open wounds," Furst said.

• Keep hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
• Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
• Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_mrsa_ca.html

Redding, who graduated from high school in Stockton and played football at Humboldt State University, is no stranger to outdoor recreation. Additionally, he daily trains a dog that will soon join him on patrol.

So when he slipped on a rock and scraped his leg while fishing, Redding didn't think much of it. A week later, he went wakeboarding and the next day - a Monday - his troubles began.

By that Tuesday, Redding couldn't put any weight on his leg and went to a doctor, who diagnosed MRSA and started Redding on three kinds of antibiotics. The doctor ordered Redding to light duty when he went back to work that Wednesday, and his limp was very obvious.

Two days later, things still weren't right.

"I'd been noticing that my leg was continuing to swell and getting more and more red, so I went back to the doctor. The second he sees it he tells I need to be admitted to the hospital to start antibiotics," Redding said.

He was admitted to Lodi Memorial Hospital that Friday at noon, where he spent the better part of the next four days.

The experience was enough to turn Redding into a person who now warns others about the hazards of dangerous bacteria.

Contact reporter Layla Bohm at layla@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 7:42 am on Tue, Jul 3, 2007.


    What do you think will happen if you soak your open wound in a dirty river? The Delta along with all waterways and lakes are full of dead fish, animal & human waste, insect larve, rotting vegitation, parasites and bacteria, you don't have to avoid the water, just use common sense!

  • posted at 3:11 pm on Mon, Jul 2, 2007.


    Open wound?, wakeboarding in the Delta? Don't policemen take basic first aid where they learn things like keeping a wound clean and dry, maybe even covered so thing slike this don't happen?

  • posted at 1:30 pm on Mon, Jul 2, 2007.


    Current Lodian, if you cant handle the comments maybe you should not be posting anything. Everyone has the right to their opinion. As Long as everyone is healthy thats all that matters.

  • posted at 8:45 am on Mon, Jul 2, 2007.


    To the "exLodian" that wrote "...he more likely got it from dealing with people on meth then from the Delta..." My husband recently contracted MRSA, not because he is a cop, and not because he is a meth addict. Like Officer Redding, my husband had a cut on his leg. He is a heavy equipment operator and according to his Dr. he more than likely contracted the disease from the dirt that he was digging in (there were no meth addicts in the dirt at the time). Please do more research before you post your comments.

  • posted at 8:39 am on Mon, Jul 2, 2007.


    MSRA is a horriable infection. Recently my father went thru Brain surgery, during his recovery he contracted MSRA from one of the staff members who touched his head would with out gloves on, and from that point on he went down hill, it spred into his throat, chest and legs, needs to say he never came out of his coma state and passed away, This is something you dont mess with.. Please take care of your self.

  • posted at 8:07 am on Mon, Jul 2, 2007.


    As I read this article, I thought it was both unfair and misleading to say that this officer contracted MRSA from the Delta. It is very hard to pinpoint where and how a patient develops MRSA. Are you going to tell me that the large number of people in the nursing homes, that come in contact with this annually, got it from wake boarding in the Delta?

  • posted at 6:34 am on Mon, Jul 2, 2007.


    Tis is for the exlodian. My brother was in the hospital and had been in for several days when he contracted he same infection and had to undergo weeks of antibiotics, so it is not mostly from meth users.



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