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Mersa (MRSA) is a resistant form of staph bacteria that has been around for decades, but was limited mostly to outbreaks in hospital and nursing-home patients. Now the outbreak is spreading to non-hospital settings. The MRSA infection is spread by skin-to-skin contact. The spread of MRSA infection can occur in any setting where there is crowding, causing skin-to-skin contact with individuals with open skin areas (cuts, abrasions etc.), contaminated items (clothing, equipment) and surfaces, and a general lack of cleanliness. You can have contaminated surfaces or personal hygiene items that can spread the infection. These settings described above can be in schools, military barracks, gyms, households, dormitories, daycare centers and also correctional facilities.

Infections begin once the integrity of the skin is broken and the staphylococcus aureus bacteria enters. Infection begins on the skin, triggering inflammation, boils or nasty abscesses that can take weeks of treatment to stop, including surgery and hospitalization. But if it moves into the bloodstream, MRSA can cause bone infection, lung-damaging pneumonia, organ damage, even fatal toxic shock syndrome.

There are 3 key treatment regimes that are commonly used today. Those who are colonized but not infected are advised to practice good skin washing and good hygiene. And if the person is at risk and undergoing a surgical procedure anyone caring for them is key to preventing infection. Hand washing and preventing cross contaminating the patient. This means checking one persons wound then handing a box of tissues to the next patient and not washing your hands. Gloves are fine but do not protect the patient from other areas not covered or perhaps lack of integrity caused some contamination. Therefore, healthcare professionals must wash their hands to avoid spreading MRSA.

For those who have a potential or active bloodstream infection – drugs such as Vancomycin, Linezolid or Daptomycin should be used.

For those with infected wounds, special salves and preparations and such as tea tree oil are all believed to be effective in killing MRSA in a wound. Many who have the skin infections common with community acquired MRSA, simply need incision and drainage of the infected area and good hygiene while it heals. Antibiotics are not always needed.

Prevention is really the key. Good hand washing is the cure. In a hospital setting even a health care provider who is typing on a keyboard then runs off to tend to a patient’s call bell and does not wash their hands places that patient in jeopardy. You do not know who touched the keyboard prior. In the gym, wiping down equipment is key. Even in the food store hand wipes on the carriages is a good idea especially when you are handing food products. Alcohol and chlorine bleach have both proven to be effective topical sanitizers against the MRSA infection

What this basically boils down to is, Mother knows best: Wash Your Hands.

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