Friday, November 9, 2007
Facts about MRSA from the Board of Health
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph infection that is resistant to some antibiotics. Staph is a common bacterium found in the nose and on the skin of healthy individuals. About 20% to 30% of the United States population is colonized with staph, while only 1% is colonized with MRSA. Infections result when the bacteria are able to enter the skin usually through a cut or an abrasion.
The majority of infections occur in hospital settings, but the number of infections occurring outside of this setting is increasing. Staph infections are spread through person-to-person contact or contact with contaminated objects. Settings most conducive to transmitting staph have five common characteristics or the five Cs: Crowding, Contact, Compromised skin integrity, Contaminated items and surfaces, and a lack of Cleanliness. It is important to note that most infections are spread through direct skin-to-skin contact.
Why has resistance occurred?
Resistance to antibiotics can develop due to naturally occurring mutations in bacteria which create resistant strains, overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals, misuse of antibiotics and noncompliance with infection-control practices. Antibiotics do not necessarily create resistance, but provide an environment where the most resistant bacteria survive selectively.
Both traditional staph and MRSA infections can cause minor infections that include pimples and boils, which often are red, swollen and painful. The infections commonly occur at the sites of visible skin trauma such as cuts and abrasions. Rarely, a healthy individual with a staph infection may develop pneumonia or blood and bone infections.
Most staph infections, including MRSA, can be mild and heal themselves when they are covered and kept clean and dry. More serious infections, including those caused by MRSA, can be treated with antibiotics. It is important to remember that when taking antibiotics, finish all doses, even if you begin to feel better after a couple of days.
If you suspect you have a staph infection, see your doctor where a sample of the infection may be taken for testing. If the results are positive for staph, a second test can be performed to look for MRSA.
To prevent staph or MRSA infections, it is important to: wash your hands regularly, keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed; avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages; avoid sharing items such as towels, washcloths, toothbrushes and razors; and avoid dry, cracked skin, especially during the winter. Washing your hands regularly has proven to be the best method to prevent obtaining or spreading infections.
© 2007 The