5 09 2008

Nurse Mary Beth provides tips on protection against MRSA.

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25 02 2008

MRSA is in the news these days and it can be scary.  MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a bacterium that causes infections in and on the body.

It’s considered the super bug of staph (Staphylococcus aureus) infections because this strain is resistant to some of our antibiotics.  This resistance makes it harder to treat.

A MRSA infection on the skin may cause boils or pimples or it may cause an infection that runs so deep it has to be drained.  Treatment for such an infection may or may not include antibiotics. 

MRSA may also infect wounds or get into the lungs, the bloodstream or the urinary tract.

About 25 percent of us walk around with staph bacteria on our bodies or maybe up our noses, but we don’t become infected.  Of the 25 percent, about one percent carries MRSA. 

Should the staph get into the body through, say, a cut, we could get an infection.  Usually these infections aren’t serious, although it’s possible for them to become dangerous.  They may even cause pneumonia.

The good news is, staph is usually treated with antibiotics.  The bad news is, there are strains of staph, like MRSA, that have developed resistance to some of our antibiotics.  This super bug keeps changing and adapting, making it necessary for us to develop new antibiotics in a hurry.

To the disgrace of everyone involved, MRSA infections are exploding in healthcare settings, with MRSA now causing up to 40 to 50 percent of the staph infections in U.S. hospitals.

MRSA has also expanded from hospitals and other healthcare settings out into the community, where it is referred to as Community-Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA).

CDC tells us that in 2003, 12 percent of MRSA infections were acquired in the community.

Prevention is key to remaining MRSA-free and CDC recommends the following:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 15 seconds. Use soap and water or an alcohol-base hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cuts and scrapes with a clean bandage to prevent bacteria from entering the wound.  If you have to touch another person’s wounds or bandages, put a barrier between your hands and the soiled materials or open skin.
  • Don’t share personal care items like nail clippers or scissors, razors, towels and so on. 
  • Wipe down shared gym equipment before and after use.
  • Using the dryer rather than line drying helps kill bacteria.

MRSA is identified with lab tests.  Should your provider determine you have a MRSA infection, there are plenty of antibiotics that do work, although you may not even need to be on antibiotics.


1 06 2007

There’s an old enemy in town, the microbe called MRSA (frequently pronounced MURsah). MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. It’s a bacterium that used to be picked up during hospital stays and was easily knocked out by a dose of penicillin.

Not anymore. It’s resistant to many common antibiotics, making it harder to treat.

This bug is now found in gyms and other places where people get together. It’s a problem for everyone. It usually looks like a skin infection, but it can get in the bloodstream and urinary tract and cause multiple symptoms.

Time was, it would take a couple of days to get the labs back identifying MRSA in a patient, but now it’s just a couple of hours. Technology is a wonderful thing.

And then there is the anti-tech treatment – maggots.

Doctors at the University of Manchester in Britain have successfully treated foot ulcers in diabetics with maggots. Yes, maggots. They put the little larvae on the ulcers several times a day and watched them dine on damaged tissue. Reports are that the patients healed much faster than with normal treatment.

Hard to get over the willies with that bit of news.

The best prevention is to keep your hands clean, wash and cover your wounds, avoid touching other people’s wounds or bandages, and don’t share personal items (towels, razors and so on).

There are more conventional treatments for MRSA, but if you’re not careful, you, too, may find yourself at the business end of a maggot.