MRSA : What Is It and How Does It Affect Me?

is a strain of staph infection that has become resistant to antibiotics. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is the full name of this bacterium that can be passed from one person to another. This strain of staph is very hard to eliminate and is present in almost all hospitals or other places where many injured or ill people are gathered.

Staphylococcus strains are a normal part of life and can be found on human skin most of the time. The danger from staph occurs when there is a wound or other opening in the body that the bacterium can enter. Once inside of the body, the infection can attack vulnerable organs or enter the blood stream. Most of the time the infection can be stopped with antibiotics, but the over-use of antibiotics for illness that were not bacterial in nature, such as colds and viruses, contributed to the evolution of MRSA.

MRSA is resistant to most ‘cillin’ antibiotics. This staph strain usually presents as a rash or boil-type skin infection. Some people are resistant to the bacteria and the infection will not cause a large problem, but for some, like children, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems – it can be deadly.

Nurses encounter MRSA almost daily depending on where they work. Those employed by hospitals or nursing homes are definitely exposed to MRSA every day. Protocols for care include the use of personal protective gear (PPGs) and this reduces the chance of infection. Even with the use of protective gear, the MRSA bacterium can ‘hitch’ a ride into your home.

Taking MRSA home is scary. If you are a parent or care for an elderly parent, you know the fear that surrounds MRSA. Taking home proper personal hygiene and safeguarding with good housecleaning habit will significantly reduce your chance of infection. Antibacterial soaps are not recommended, as the over-use of these products, along with the antibiotic over-use contributed to the evolution of this staph strain.

Wipe down commonly touched surfaces in your home with a weak bleach and water mixture during cleaning. Toilet seats, sink tops and faucets, shower walls and floors, and door handles. Before leaving work, wash your hands well. Upon entering your home, wash your hands again and change clothes. For more information on how to prevent the spread of MRSA, visit the Center for Disease Control’s MRSA prevention page.

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