Every day, patients check into emergency rooms around the country complaining of skin infections. Oftentimes, they may think that it is a simple spider bite that needs treatment. However, the most common cause of skin infections being seen in ERs around the country is MRSA. This staph infection is resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat skin infections.
The high incidence of MRSA shows how important it is for doctors to get cultures on all skin infections. This will allow them to prescribe the proper antibiotic so that the MRSA can be treated.
MRSA is not a stranger to health care settings, particularly among the population of patients that are in long term care or nursing homes. However, it is no longer limited to the medical community, and new strains of MRSA are being seen in people that have no connection to the hospital or other health care facilities. Athletes, prisoners, and military recruits are also common, though these people are normally in good health and not connected to any high risk groups. As more in more patients are showing up in emergency rooms needing treatment for MRSA, the medical community is starting to take notice.
Community associated MRSA often starts as a small boil or pimple that is swollen, inflamed, and painful with a pus discharge. Many people mistake it for a spider bite or other infection.
In 2004, a study was done on over 400 patients with skin and soft-tissue infections at 11 different emergency rooms around the country. If these, about 59 percent had MRSA. Depending on the city, local regions showed infection rates at anywhere from 15 to 74 percent. Of the infections, 97 percent was of one genetic type.
This in itself is not as alarming as the treatment patients were getting. Over half of the cases had been prescribed with antibiotics that the bacteria was resistant to. This proves a need for change in emergency room and clinical procedures for skin infections.
In many cases, the MRSA infection can be treated by draining the infection and keeping it clean. However, for the cases that do require antibiotics, it is important to use ones that will actually kill the bacteria. Otherwise, these infections can progress to a point where the patient needs to be hospitalized and can even result in death.
The study also showed that there were some risk factors that were common for patients with community associated MRSA. Many thought that a spider bite was the cause of the skin problem. Many also had been in contact with another person with a similar infection. However, there were not enough commonalities to limit the risk factors to one particular group. This means that anyone with a skin lesion that is not healing properly can have MRSA.
In order to diagnose MRSA, you will need to see your doctor. If you indeed have an MRSA infection, you will need to follow some basic guidelines to protect yourself and others. Wash hands frequently, avoid sharing towels and personal items, avoid contact with other people’s wounds, keep your own wounds clean and covered, and see a doctor if you have any signs of an infection.