Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that has developed an immunity to certain antibiotics. Medications like methicillin, which were once efficacious in eliminating this microorganism, are now ineffective. This makes MRSA infections considerably more challenging to address .
MRSA can cause skin infections and potentially life-threatening infections. Many of us have used antibiotics for common injuries or illnesses, but the overuse of antibiotics has contributed to MRSA becoming a superbug. A superbug is an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is difficult to treat because it cannot be killed by most antibiotics that are prescribed to treat it . The numbers are startling, with studies showing that 1 in every 3 people are carriers of staph in their nose.
What is MRSA?
MRSA, an acronym for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a particularly dangerous form of bacterial infection that always warrants attention. This strain of staphylococcus has developed resistance to certain antibiotics and if left unchecked can have fatal consequences. It is primarily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with someone already infected by the bacteria or via contact with an open wound. Therefore, it is imperative to seek medical treatment should you suspect exposure.
The presence of MRSA has moved beyond the hospital setting and is now a growing issue within the wider population. Infection can occur when an individual comes into contact with contaminated skin, for instance through sharing items such as razors, towels, or toothbrushes. To minimize the risk of MRSA infection, it is important to consider what we refer to as ‘the five Cs’: crowding, frequent skin contact, compromised areas of skin due to cuts or scrapes, cleanliness and contamination of objects and surfaces .
Steps to take to avoid future MRSA Infections
1. Maintain Good Hand and Body Hygiene
To effectively prevent a MRSA infection, the first step is washing your hands . If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer. It’s good practice to keep this in mind when travelling by public transportation or in waiting rooms where hygiene facilities are unavailable. Furthermore, proper body hygiene should be maintained such as trimming hair and nails regularly. Lastly, it is important to seek medical attention right away if you or anybody in your family has an open wound that doesn’t seem to heal properly or appears red or is draining pus .
2. Avoid Sharing Personal Items
Do not share your toothbrush with others, and avoid sharing towels, razors, clothes, and bedding with anyone. Avoiding the use of personal items that could harbor bacteria is an essential preventative measure in avoiding contracting an MRSA infection.
MRSA infections are a dangerous illness that can lead to serious infections of the blood, heart, bones, and more. These superbugs can be limited and even avoided by simple preventative measures such as washing hands, keeping cuts clean, and avoiding unnecessary contact with others. Although MRSA is difficult to eradicate, it can be treated with antibiotics designed for that specific staph organism. Doctors have found many ways to avoid getting sick from MRSA by practicing basic hygiene and educating the public about the risks involved with MRSA.
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- Kane, Michaela. “MRSA: The Not-so-Famous Superbug.” Harvard Health, 12 Sept. 2016, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mrsa-the-not-so-famous-superbug-2016091210191.
- MRSA: Contagious, Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, Treatments – Webmd. 15 May 2021, https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-mrsa.