MRSA Skin Infection
MRSA stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus
The fact that people can and do die from MRSA skin
infections which are easily spread, alarms a lot of people
including parents and school officials. MRSA can be a
life-threatening infection if it spreads to the internal
organs. The seriousness of the infection and the fact that it
is resistant to most antibiotics is what scares people the
most. We are used to a quick visit to the doctor for a shot of
some antibiotic that cures all.
This is not a new superbug. The first cases of MRSA
were reported in 1961 -- over 40 years ago. The truly
scary thing is that it is a growing threat, spreading worldwide
and silently infecting people every day. The growth of MRSA
depended on doctors treating everything with an
antibiotic. That produced the superbug strain that is
resistant to methicillin.
The common symptoms of a MRSA skin infection are the
appearance of cellulitis, boils or abscesses, a sty on the eye,
carbuncles or impetigo. A fever, chills, low blood
pressure, joint pains, headaches that are severe in nature,
experiencing shortness of breath, and the appearance of a rash
all over the body are all symptoms of MRSA that require
immediate medical attention.
However, having these symptoms does not mean you have an
MRSA skin infection. Confirming a staph skin infection
will require a visit to your doctor or possibly the emergency
room if you are experiencing a high fever. You may have come in
contact with other contagious skin infections and you may be
spreading them yourself.
If you have an open cut, scratch, or cracked dry
skin, you can become infected by having physical contact
with someone who is already infected with MRSA. Another way to
become infected with the MRSA skin infection is to come into
contact with an object that was touched by
someone with MRSA.
Those objects can be door handles, sinks, towels, bed
linens, newspapers and books. Simple things like the handle on
your shopping cart or the nozzle on a gas pump or the cell
phone you shared with a friend can be the source of an MRSA
MRSA is becoming more common among groups of people
like school sport teams, dormitory residents, and military
personnel because all these individuals live, work or
play in close contact with each other and are likely to share
Other individuals who are at high risk for MRSA are those
who have skin breaks (surgical patients, those with IV's, burn
patients and those with skin ulcers). That is why your local
hospital and doctor's office are such scary places to
visit. You want to be sure your health care givers are
washing their hands on each visit. If you are visiting
someone in the hospital, wash your hands on entering the room
and on leaving.
Anyone who works in the public must be aware of contagious
Health care workers have an increased exposure
risk because they come into contact with patients with
infections on a daily basis. They at least have the
knowledge that they are dealing with infections. Store
clerks, teachers, food servers, repair people and fire and
police personnel come into contact with possible contagious
skin infections daily. For these people the focus is
not on health but their immediate job.
Consider the repair person who skins a knuckle during the
job. Open wound. He hands the home
owner a pen to sign the receipt. The home owner
has a contagious skin infection and passes the bacteria to the
pen and thus to the repair person who passes it on to the next
person to use the pen.
Washing your hands is still the best preventative medicine
for MRSA skin infections.
Parents should teach children how to clean their
hands properly and when to clean them.
Clean all scrapes, cuts and abrasions and apply antiseptic
cream and a band-aid to prevent dirt and germs from entering
Most stores have wipes available to clean shared surfaces
like shopping cart handles. It only takes a moment to use the
wipe and prevent the spread of germs.
Older people with thin skin that tears at the slightest
pressure must be aware of contagious skin infections. All
wounds no matter how small should be covered until they
The best way to overcome both the fear of the
infection and the infection itself, is to gain
knowledge about both prevention and treatment. Learning
about how MRSA is contracted and spread, can help individuals
to avoid situations where they would be exposed to the MRSA
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