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October Is World MRSA Awareness Month

Updated on April 21, 2013

The month of October is not only Breast Cancer Awareness Month but it also has been designated as the World MRSA Awareness Month. This is to ensure that people become educated about this infection that has been plaguing as for more than 50 years. It raises awareness on the need to prevent and to find ways to treat MRSA.


What is MRSA?

MRSA (pronouced meer-sa) is the acronym for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and is an antibiotic-resistant strain of staph bacteria often found on the skin and nasal passages of healthy children and adults. It does not easily respond to common antibiotics used to treat staph infections making it so much harder to treat. It is resistant to antibiotics called beta-lactams which include methicillin and more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin.

It has been reported that more Americans die every year from MRSA than from HIV/AIDS and H1N1. It continues to be a major public health threat worldwide but is treatable when recognized early on and received treatment immediately before infection becomes severe.

Two types of MRSA

1. Hospital-acquired (hospital-associated) MRSA or HA-MRSA

The healthcare-acquired MRSA infections happen frequently in hospitals, rehab facilities, nursing homes and have been increasing in disturbing rates for decades. The MRSA acquired in the healthcare settings more often than not causes more severe and potentially life-threatening infections, such as surgical site wound infections, urinary tract infection, bloodstream infections, or pneumonia, especially those who have undergone procedure such as surgery or have catheters inserted into their skin.This makes it easier for the MRSA to get inside the body. The signs and symptoms will vary by the type and stage of the infection. Direct contact with an infected or colonized objects are the MRSA mode of transmission.

A healthcare worker with contaminated hands or equipment can infect the next patient who might be a child or elderly and with a compromised immune system. A recent study by a team by Israeli scientists published in the September issue of the American Journal of Infection Control showed that healthcare workers uniform are also ideal channels of transmission. According to the study 65 % of the nurses uniforms scrubs and 60% of the doctors’ medical uniforms tested positive for potentially dangerous bacteria. It is also important to note that visitors of infected patients should avoid touching catheters or wound sites and should wash their hands before leaving the patients room. Patients should also make sure that the healthcare worker taking care of them should wash their hands first and then put on gloves before touching them. They also must insist that healthcare workers must also wash their hands again before leaving the room. This is one way of preventing the spread of the infection.

Recent surveys though suggest that the hospital-acquired MRSA has declined over the years but the community-acquired MRSA has risen.


2. Community-acquired MRSA, also called community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA

CA-MRSA infections are defined as MRSA infections in individuals who have not recently been hospitalized or had medical procedures such as dialysis, surgery or catheters or residence in a long-term care facility within 1 year of the MRSA culture date.While the hospital acquired MRSA causes more illness and even death to hospitalized patients and the elderly with weakened immune systems, the community-acquired MRSA occurs in healthy people and typically shows up as a skin infection although severe infections such as pneumonia following flu can also occur.

Transmission of MRSA is by touching contaminated objects as well as skin-to-skin contact with someone colonized with MRSA. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines colonized as: When a person carries the organism/bacteria but shows no clinical signs or symptoms of infection. For Staph aureus the most common body site colonized is the nose.

MRSA in the community has become widespread and so anyone is at risk. Community outbreaks have been reported in child care attendees, sports teams, prison inmates and others where occupancy is somewhat concentrated. Most CA-MRSA infections may start or emerge as pustules or boils which frequently are red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. Most of the time they look like spider bites or red, swollen and painful bumps that may commonly occur at sites of cuts and abrasions and those covered by hair such as groin, back of neck, armpit, buttocks, and beard area in men.

Some factors that have been linked with the increase of skin infections are:

  • close skin-to-skin contact
  • openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions
  • contaminated items and surfaces
  • crowded living conditions
  • poor hygiene

Certain locations in the community where these factors are common include:

  1. Daycare centers
  2. Gyms and Athletic facilities
  3. Correctional facilities
  4. Military barracks
  5. Dormitories
  6. School fitness centers, locker rooms and off sports equipment

CA-MRSA bacteria are usually susceptible to more types of antibiotics than are healthcare-associated strains of MRSA.


Practicing good hygiene remains to be the most important key to preventing all kinds of infection, including MRSA, especially in locations prone to CA-MRSA.

  1. Practice good hand hygiene by keeping your hands clean by washing it thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub.
  2. Make sure that cuts, scrapes and wounds are kept clean and covered with bandage until it is healed.
  3. Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or even bandages.
  4. Do not share personal items such as towels, clothing, razors, beddings, etc.
  5. In gyms and athletic facilities, make sure to shower after participation in the game and before using the whirlpools.
  6. It is best to wash and dry sports uniforms after every use.
  7. Also, make sure to wipe down equipment before and after use. Do not touch face afterwards when you haven't washed your hands yet.
  8. It is imperative that sports teams and athletes should report any or possible infections to their coach, athletic trainer, school nurse, or parents.

Prevention in hospital settings

Those mentioned about works for hospitals and other healthcare facilities but nurses and healthcare workers should also practice standard procedures such as:

  1. Comply with CDC hand hygiene recommendations.It is important and necessary to perform good hand hygiene between tasks and procedures to ensure cross-contamination. It is most important especially after touching body fluids, blood and other secretions and contaminated items, even if gloves have been worn.
  2. Make sure to wear clean uniform scrubs for each day.The study made by the Israeli scientists showed that there was higher contamination on uniforms scrubs thathave been changed every two days than those changed daily.
  3. Wear gloves. Use clean nonsterile gloves when doing tasks especially if anticipating contact with body fluid and blood or other potentially infectious materials. Remove gloves immediately after use and do not wear the same pair of gloves on more than one patient. Dispose of gloves and do not wash it and reuse as this has been linked to transmission of pathogens.
  4. Wear mouth, nose eye protection. Use personal protection equipment to protect mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth when performing tasks and procedure that are likely to produce splashes of blood and other body fluids.
  5. Wear a gown or aprons.
  6. Immediately wash uniforms scrubs after use. Changing the uniform scrubs that one uses and laundering it immediately could keep pathogens from spreading. The use of detergent and water hot enough to kill MRSA and other bacteria is recommended by experts.
  7. Thoroughly and disinfect clean rooms and medical equipment, including frequently-touched surfaces (ie. Door knobs) in all healthcare facilities and in the community can help reduce infections.

It has long been believed that good hand hygiene remains to be the cornerstone of infection prevention and so hospitals made some video about it to create awareness and educate their patients on the importance of washing their hands thoroughly. Hospitals like the University Hospital of South Manchester made a an eye-catching video featuring members of the staff, Board members, clinical directors, surgeons through scientists, nurse and volunteers, domestics and porters, in uniforms scrubs and lab coats dancing and singing to the music courtesy of 70's disco favorites Village People which has been changed to MRSA. The 2 year running campaign of UHSM focuses on the need for good hand hygiene. They have done two videos both on hand washing; the one above is their cover of Village People’s YMCA and the earlier video to the tune of Michael Jackson’s Beat It. The campaign uses all the people involved in the hospital to show everyone that this is an issue that affects all of them and demonstrate the commitment of all levels of the organization to infection prevention. And so far they have been successful seeing a 70% reduction in HA-MRSA and 50% in C. difficile.


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    • Marie-Renee profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I am happy that my hub has enlightened you further and hope it helps others learn more about it, too.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      8 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I once wrote an article about MRSA on another site about three years ago, it is so important to wear shoes when showering at the gym to practice hygiene at home or hospitals, even in other facilities such as old-aged homes. You have enlightened me even more on MRSA thanks.Voted up!

    • Marie-Renee profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks Winterfate, I never really knew much about these things until I became a mom. That's when I realized that no matter how much you take care of your children somehow they still get sick, unless their immunity system is super dooper up. They have to know that the basic like good hygiene is still key to prevention of all types of illnesses and that is what we need to teach them. Thanks for the read and for recommending.

    • Winterfate profile image

      Darrin Perez 

      8 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Voted up, awesome and useful!

      As a microbiologist by degree, I am fascinated by stuff like this. I've always found the behavior of bacteria to be much more interesting than the macro study of animals. Perhaps I'm just weird like that.

      Anyway, MRSA is something you learn about by default in college during bacteriology and microbiology courses so I do know a lot about it. I can agree with wanting to be aware about this strain, as staphs in general are quite pesky critters. MRSA can be deadly to people with immunodeficiency conditions (or risk age groups such as children and aging people).

      Thanks for the read!

    • Marie-Renee profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks Tonja for your kind comments and for sharing your experience on MRSA. So sad that some people are not that careful about the things they use on other people, maybe the podiatrist used it on an infected person and thus infected your client. We really have to be careful especially since community MRSA is on the gyms, schools, dorms and many more, it will spread faster if people are not careful and vigilant about it. Hope you and your client both get over it.

    • sharewhatuknow profile image


      9 years ago from Western Washington

      Marie_Renee, very useful hub. Very useful. I voted it up, awesome and useful.

      MRSA is out there. The person I do in-home-care for had horribly infected toes, ( ironically, it was his Podiatrist who would nip/cut into his flesh, PISSED me off ) and then he would develop horrible infections AGAIN. I would get the one under control and then another would appear.

      One of his test stated MSRA. Also, at the same time, my body started breaking out in boils.

      A few months later and a visit to MY doc, he asked me if I was around someone with infections....

      Enough said.

      Up until then, I had been using SafeGuard, a very strong anti-bacterial soap. But, I had been using Dial, the same, on my client.

    • Marie-Renee profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @Benjimester, thanks for appreciating my hub and I really hope that more people get to read it. Ironic isn't it that they get it from a place they are supposed to get the best medical help. Unfortunately, pathogens are everywhere and so we need to take extra care so we wont get the infection.

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 

      9 years ago from San Diego, California

      That's good to hear that there's a MRSA awareness month. Surgical site MRSA is the worst. I've talked to a couple people who have gotten it after surgery and it sounds like torture. It's sad that people get it from the place they go to get healed. Thanks for passing the info along.

    • Marie-Renee profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @RTalloni, I did try my best to do justice to it knowing how important the topic is. I made a thorough research and hope that it may be of help to others. According to experts we should actually make sure that nurse and other healthcare workers, demand if we must that they wash their hands before they care of our family. Elderly people like your parents are more susceptible because of their weakened immune system. Love the videos too! Funny but really very informative, and I like that everyone participated giving the impression that everyone is really involved in the campaign and loved the fact that it worked. There are other hospitals who made videos just like these 2 but love this especially becaus it's YMCA and Beat It. No worries, I would love to write more about it, thanks for the boost up and the really nice comment.

    • Marie-Renee profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @ThePracticalMommy, I am happy that my hub can be of help because for now that's all that I can do, make people aware of the danger of this infection and how simple ways can make a huge difference. Parents should make sure that their children, no matter what age, know the value of washing their hands and all other precautionary measures because we are not together all the time and kids will always be kids and would try to get away from these things. But if they know how important it is then we have nothing to worry about. Thanks for the lovely comment.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is great! Because of what I continually see going on in hospitals and a nursing home (due to trying to help elderly parents) I have wanted to write about this so often! However, I knew that I could not do it justice. This is so needed! I hope to see this hub--and others like it--highlighted over and over again!

      I have witnessed appalling practices, yet for the most part been hampered by attitudes of the people involved. Sometimes, though, I've been able to speak up for there are some health care workers who care--and they appreciate it when "we the people" speak up on behalf of patients.

      Your videos are great. When I turned the first one on I thought, "What's with the exercise program--is this a trick to see if people really do watch the vids?" :)

      Maybe you could write about this topic once a month, once a week, or once a DAY! (Yes, that's a hint.) :)

      Thanks again! I especially like the comment in the one video that says "We can clean up!"

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image


      9 years ago from United States

      Thanks for sharing this hub with ever-important information about MRSA. Your prevention tips are spot-on. I'll be sharing this with others!


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