New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

An Epidemic of Antibiotics

Team: 50

School: Down to Earth School

Area of Science: Epidemiology


Interim: Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or superbugs, have become a problem to our modern day society, and the problem is getting worse with the over-use of antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are bacteria that have become immune to antibiotics and are not affected by them. Some drug-resistant superbugs can transfer their immunity to other bacteria of different kinds, causing those bacteria to be immune as well.

Our question is: How will the transmission rates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Urban and Rural high schools compare? How will the over-use of antibiotics affect the present and future rates?

We are observing the growth of MRSA carriers in two high schools, Silver High School and Lordsburg High School. MRSA is a type of bacteria that is known for being antibiotic-resistant. In early stages of MRSA it can cause: Cellulitis (an infection of the skin, usually starting as small red bumps on skin with some areas resembling a bruise), puss-filled infections called boils, abscesses, Sty (infection of an oil gland in the eyelid), a rash, Carbuncles (infections larger than abscesses, usually with several openings to the skin), and Impetigo (a skin infection with pus-filled blisters). If the bacteria spreads to internal organs it may be life threatening. If MRSA becomes severe, it may cause: Endocarditis (a heart disease), a flesh eating disease called Necrotizing Fasciitis, Osteomyelitis (a bone infection), and Sepsis (blood poisoning). We will be comparing the transmission of MRSA in the rural high school, Lordsburg High School, to the spread of it, in the urban high school, Silver High School. We will also be comparing the rate of transmission in each school. We have a survey made that we will to send out to the teens of the high schools to get information.

The goal for our model is to create an agent-based model that shows the growth and spread of MRSA throughout the two schools. We will have agents who represent students that use antibiotics only when needed; agents that over-use antibiotics (i.e. using antibiotics even if infection, or illness, is caused by a virus); agents that are carriers of the superbug who are not infected; and agents that are infected by MRSA. We will have the agents interact with each other at school and therefore be at risk of becoming infected by those infected with or carrying MRSA. The agents representing students in our model spend time interacting in school and then interacting and traveling outside of school after the "school-day" is over.

In our model we may also incorporate the effect of meat products on the superbugs; for every one antibiotic prescribed to a human at least three are prescribed to live-stock, this increases the over-use of antibiotics and the risk for humans having the drug-resistant superbug.

At this time we have researched many things including how a bacterium becomes resistant to antibiotics. We have also been investigating how MRSA is caused and transmitted; as well as how bacteria can cause other types of bacteria to become immune. We have been looking into schools in our area. In our model we have created the two procedures, one representing Lordsburg High and the other represents Silver High, the students and their movement around the environment. Our team has also started the creation of the final report outline. We have developed two surveys: one for the students to fill out and one for the nurses at the school.

· www.medicinenet.com/mrsa_infection/article.htm. Davis, Charles, MD, PhD.

· www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007261.htm. Vyas, Jatin, MD, PhD.

· http://brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/common_college_health_issues/mrsa.php.


Team Members:

  Simone Hill
  Samantha Lopez
  analyse waldron

Sponsoring Teacher: Maia Chaney

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