The Causes and Symptoms of MRSA
Images of early and Later stages of MRSA
MRSA or Methicillin-resistant Stapyloccocus aureus has become common to many of us especially health professionals or those actually contracting the disease.
One morning my spouse was have breakfast with a medical friend and mentioned a spot on his finger he had cut from cutting wood from our rabbit cage. It had been soiled with bunny droppings as he worked. He washed well when done thinking nothing more about it.
After a few days the site became sore and itchy. He put antibiotic cream and a bandaid on it then. Of course the tempermental bandaid refused to stay on so his friend notice the swollen cut, small as it was and more importantly the red streaks leading up toward his hand and arm.
In alarm his friend asked what happened and sent him straight to the pharmacy for a strong antibiotic. He was lucky Bill caught it so fast. Yes it was early stage MRSA.
To this day he wil make flippant jokes about his MRSA flarring up to me. It is funny but it could have been an amputation and even death.
Community Acquired MRCA a new problem
We are not having as much trouble with MRSA in hospitals as health care professionals have worked to decrease it but a new mutation has developed says Dr, Robert A Weinstein, from the Infectious Disease Society of America. This is called community acquired MRSA and is being found more and more prevalently in pre-schools, prisons, army barracks and any area where large groups of individuals congregate and share living conditions inside.
It is so important to never share personal items like towels, razors, personal gym equipment,etc. It has been found says Dr. Weinstein that our overuse of antibiotics for colds and virus' has caused a large part of the problem. Bugs like these are not seen in the Netherlands were the use of antibiotics is limited to a much greater degree.
So How do we get it?
MRSA is often termed a "super bug" because it has become so resistant to our common antibiotics.
Garden variety staph live everywhere. Most people carrying the infection do not become infected with it. It is found in the nose. In fact people are often screened for being a carrier by doing a simple nose swab. It is one of the most common causes of infection in the US.
Parents should encourage their children to keep their hands away from their noses and not touch open sores on other people.
A simple cut is welcome ground for a MRSA infection to take hold and once it enters the body it can travel to the blood stream, lungs, kidneys, heart, bones, etc. You get the idea.
MRSA was first discovered and officially named in 1961. It has become resistant to some of the most prevalant antibiotics in use today.
How is MRSA Diagnosed
What causes the Infection
Once you have a sore or cut or any opening on your body that is irritated if you touch someone with the staph infection or even touch something they may have touched you have begun the process of contamination of your wound.
This is why it is so important to keep hospitals and other medical buildings clean and for health professionals to wash their hands oftne.
Not only are patients coming in with open wounds but because of illnesses they may have a decreased immune system. Age also is a factor as the young and elderly are more likely to contract MRSA. Their more fragile bodies are in a state that makes it more difficult to fight disease.
Infections in hopitals have been labeled nosocomial infections or rather infections caused within the hospital itself. Anyone with an already weekened immune system is more likely to fall prey to these infections. They enter through surgical wounds, catheters, tubes draining body fluids or used to feed patients i.e. IV's or feeding tubes.
Each year hospitals set up teams to work on keeping these infections down by doing things like traing health professionals, putting waterless hand cleaners at every patient's room door and changing policies on how often dressings, tubing, etc. should be changed.
It is a very serious problem.
MRSA is also seen outside the hospital and more and more "healthy" individuals are contracting the infection. These ard calls Community-associated MRSA infections.
One study done in Texas found that between 1999 and 2001 children were getting MRSA at an increase of 14x the previous years. *Web-MD
Ways to Contract MRSA
So What is the big deal?
Doctors are finding MRSA more difficult than ever to treat as these super bacteria mutate and become more resistant to the antibiotics in our arsenal. Drug companies are working diligently to create new antibiotics but it is a race against a strong enemy. Drug companies are also hurting us by encouraging the use of their products when they are really not necessary as with a cold or virus.
The over use of antibiotics is one of the problems of our modern world. People don't stay home in bed and nurse a cold or sore throat any more. No they have to see the doctor and get on medicine even if it is just an allergy or a common cold. Antibiotics do nothing for these things but help the bugs in our body adjust to the antibiotics and learn to become stronger than the medicines.
If you are not severely sick or someone with a compromised immune system give a cough or cold a few days to run its course. You may run a low grade fever around 100 degrees or so but that is God's way of helping our bodies to fight infection. Drink plenty of fluids, and rest. Most importantly stay away from healthy people and don't spread your virus. Most colds are caused by a virus that will run its course and no amount of antibiotic will speed that up. Some physicians are giving into their patients complaints and putting them on antibiotics to make them think they are doing something but in reality they are only placebos against a virus and no more helpful than a jelly bean.
I am not suggesting you stay away from the doctor if you are severely ill, running a fever over 102 and coughing severely after several days of bed rest. Be sensible. I think most of us know when we really need to seek medical assistance. A little common sense goes a long way in this war against the super bugs of tomorrow.
Importance of Handwashing
Our first Lines of Defense
How to protect you and your Family
1There are many things the average person can do to prevent a MRSA infection or even slow down contracting the common cold. Wash your hands frequently!!!!!
2.Stay home when you are feeling under the weather.
3. Infections are caused by body contact and droplets passed in the air. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.
4. Keep alcohal based hand sanitzer by your desk and in your car for those times when you can't get to running water.
5. If someone you live with has a staph infection wash all their towels, sheets etc separately and never share someone's towel.
6. Gyms and athletic equipment is notorious for being contaminated. Always wash your hands well just before you leave the gym.
7. If you have a boil or serious sore invest in some good antibiotic hand soap like Hibicleans ans use it often.
8. Wipe down exposed surfaces with alcohol or diluted bleach solution. (A solution of 1/4 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water.)
9. Always finish your entire bottle of antibiotics to prevent the bacteria from returning with a renewed strength.
10. If you do have a boil or pimple anywhere on your body have your doctor drain it. The CDC reccomends drainage as the first line of defense against MRSA.* Center for Disease Control
11. If you or a family member is hospitalized, be your own patient advocate and make sure all doctors and nurses are washing their hands and wearing gowns and gloves before patient care.
12. Keep all wounds or sores clean and dry. Wash well with an antibiotic soap and cover the area with a bandage. Never share razors, clothing, towels , sheets, etc.
13. A study done in Great Britain found the negative ion ionizer will reduce the number of MRSA omfections significantly.* National Institute of Health.
14. Know the symptoms. Infections may start out as small red bumps that look like pimples. They may be painful with red streaking and develop into and absess. Often you may develop flu-like symptoms.
15. In your home develop techniques for cleaning surfaces that are frequently toughted by bare skin. If using bleach. Mix 1/4 cup to 1 gallon water. Most importantly keep all wounds covered.