Saturday, January 24, 2009

Evolution Wins in Texas, MRSA Celebrates

The Texas Board of Education has endorsed a new teaching standard that students "analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing" rather than discussing the creationist-pushed "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories. The vote was only 8-7 to endorse scientific rigor in science teaching. And this was only the first vote. After a public comment period, a final vote is scheduled for March.

Notoriously fickle bacteria Staphylococcus aureus has ignored the preliminary nature of the vote and evolved anyway. In fact, the anarchist bacteria didn't even wait for the vote, it's been evolving for a very long time, and rapidly. Now the ST398 strain of methicillin-resistant staph has been detected in Iowa pigs and farmers, marking this strain's official arrival in the United States. This particular antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a big problem in the Netherlands where an infection from pigs has spread rapidly to infect 30% of the human population. MRSA is a growing problem in livestock and humans, in the United States and around the world. MRSA infection can be deadly in humans, particularly in vulnerable hospital patient populations.

(image credit: Tara Smith, via sciam.com)