The latest super bug, MRSA, has been making headlines. Here is a look at exactly what MRSA is. First off, you will probably want to know what MRSA stands for. It is Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or Multiple Resistance Staphylococcus Aureus. It is often referred to as “staph.” The bacteria itself is found naturally occurring on the body in about three out of ten people. Previously, methicillin was the antibiotic used to treat staph. The resistance to antibiotics makes this version much more difficult to treat.
Normally, the staph lives on the surface without any problems. It can normally be found in the nose, arm pit, and around the genital area. However, if it gets into an open wound, it can cause an infection. It can then work its way into the blood stream to the major organs, leading to infections of the chest, bones, blood, heart, etc. The best prevention comes from the good hygiene of patients, staff, and visitors.
Most people carry staph at least once in awhile, and this has nothing to do with personal hygiene. People who are in the hospital, are ill or have open wounds are more likely to carry staph and develop an infection from it. It is most commonly seen in hospital situations, particularly in the elderly or those in long term care, though it is becoming more prevalent in the general population.
To tell if you are infected, a few tests may need to be done. A simple swab of the infected area can test for the presence of staph. Blood, urine, and body fluid samples may also be taken and sent to a lab. If they do detect the presence of staph, the lab will run further tests to determine which antibiotic will be most effective in fighting it. If you are found to have a staph infection, immediate treatment is recommended to keep it from spreading. The tests will only detect staph, so if it is not found and/or your doctor thinks you may have another infection, further tests may need to be run to get a complete diagnosis.
If you are found to be a carrier of MRSA, you may or may not need to treat it. In some cases, topical treatments can be used. At this time MRSA can be treated, though the number of antibiotics that work against it is becoming limited. Some people are misled to think that going out in the sun will cure MRSA. However, this bacterium prefers the parts of your body that are not normally exposed to the sun.
If you need treatment for MRSA, you can still have visitors. Discuss with your doctor what precautions you and your visitors will need to take to prevent further spread of the disease.
All in all, the best cure for MRSA is prevention. Always wash your hands well, and avoid contact with infected persons if possible. If you have any skin wounds that look suspicious or that will not heal, see your doctor immediately.