The number of American deaths from a virulent, drug-resistant strain of staph, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus), is poised to outnumber the U.S.’s annual death toll from AIDS. (, 10/16). A study published in the October 17 Journal of the American Medical Association reports that annual MRSA deaths may reach 18,650. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AIDS killed 17,000 Americans in 2005.

Experts attribute MRSA prevalence to overuse of penicillin-related antibiotics and thus the development of resistant strains. The strain preys on people with compromised immune systems, including those living with HIV, and most commonly spreads in hospitals, poor urban neighborhoods, prisons, gyms and locker rooms.