At first glance, MRSA may look like it could belong to NASA’s space program as a space ship in search of a new planet or solar system. Actually, MRSA is an acronym but it doesn’t stand for anything as magnificent as space travel. MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body and is more difficult to treat than regular strands of staphylococcus aureus. This is due to its ability to resist most antibiotics such as methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin and oxacillin.
Most human beings carry staph as it is considered to be a very common bacterium that lives on us harmlessly, on our skin and in our noses. Many of us are carriers for days, weeks, or even years, and we don’t even know it as the symptoms are unapparent. It can become a problem when it is allowed to penetrate an open wound, causing a minor infection. Unfortunately, staph is one of the most common causes of skin infections in the U.S.
MRSA is spread in two ways: contact with someone who has it on their skin or by touching an object that has the MRSA bacteria on it. For those who have weak immune systems due to injury or illness, MRSA infections are more common. This includes people who live in care facilities, work in hospitals, or attend a daycare or school facility. The risk of infection in hospitals and care facilities are on the rise worldwide as MRSA causes more than 60% of all staph infections. Infected medical tools such as catheters or feeding tubes can also be carriers of MRSA.
Of course, MRSA symptoms and severity of an infection depend upon which part of the body is infected. MRSA typically develops around an open sore, cut, scrape or bite and appear as a red, swollen and often painful bump. Although cases of MRSA are rare in children, if they do contact it, a fever will ensue. Parents should not worry as doctors are able to treat MRSA in kids using antibiotics. For more serious infections in adults, MRSA can attack a wound from surgery, the bloodstream, lungs or urinary tracts. While most cases are not serious, some of them can be fatal.
The treatment for MRSA often includes the draining of a skin abscess and a prescription for an antibiotic. More severe cases may demand IV antibiotics administered during a hospital stay. Yet, it is important to note that the the medical community is becoming increasingly concerned about MRSA as it is becoming more and more resilient to their efforts. This means that the bacterium are avoiding the affects of the antibiotics, thus making it harder to kill.
This can be attributed to three causes:
1. Patients are not taking their antibiotics as prescribed by missing doses or not finishing the prescribed amount.
2. Patients may be taking someone else’s prescription altogether.
3. Patients are being prescribed antibiotics to treat a virus that is not curable by an antibiotic. Only an illness brought on by invading bacterias can be fought with an antibiotic.
Unfortunately, scientists are having a tough time staying ahead of MRSA as they attempt to design and manufacture new antibiotics. But the good news is that staph is rare in children and doctors are more able to cure their infection.
There are a number of ways to prevent MRSA for children and adults:
1. Wash your hands with soap and water for more than 15 seconds throughout the day.
2. Antibiotic hand sanitizers are a good second choice when soap and water are not available.
3. All cuts or broken skin must be kept clean and bandaged.
4. Avoid sharing objects that have come into contact with another (razors, linens and clothes).
5. Any public gym or sports equipment should be cleaned using an antiseptic product before use.
6. Take all prescriptions as advised by a physician.
Additional information on staph infection: