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Thursday, October 18, 2007

MRSA: the Silent Killer - Are You at Risk?

By CarolAnn Bailey-Lloyd


* MRSA represents Methicillan Resistant Staphylococcus Aureaus.


Most people have never heard of MRSA, but it is a very common germ, which belongs to the Staphylococcus aureus family. Totally harmless, this germ exists on the skin and in the nasal passages of about one-third of all people. Found mainly on broken skin, MRSA has the potential of becoming a life-threatening infection.


MRSA occurs most frequently among persons in healthcare facilities and hospitals. Furthermore, some patients are at higher risks for MRSA, such as: patients having prolonged hospital stays, patients enclosed in an ICU (intensive care unit) or burn unit, patients who've had recent surgery; and even those who've had minor hospital procedures such as urinary or intravenous catherization.


Purportedly, rough estimates of persons hospitalized each year for MRSA infections number as much as 100,000.


* Are you at risk for MRSA?


MRSA can be the key invader that causes abscesses; boils, pneumonia, bone infections, and can even contaminate cuts such as accidental wounds or surgical incisions made by catheters or other surgical procedures. Initially, MRSA is a local infection, but can rapidly introduce dangerous toxins into the body's blood causing blood poisoning.


* How is MRSA Prevented?


Because MRSA is most commonly spread through skin contact, it can be widely contained by adhering to simple hygienic practices. Using proper hand washing and sufficient staff training can almost nearly eliminate the possibility of patients contracting MRSA. In addition, avoiding physical contact with other people's wounds or contaminated wound material is helpful in preventing MRSA infection.


If you think you have a staph or MRSA infection, you should see your healthcare provider immediately. Delaying medical care can result in death.


As cited by the CDC, "MRSA is almost always spread by direct physical contact, and not through the air. Spread may also occur through indirect contact by touching objects (i.e., towels, sheets, wound dressings, clothes, workout areas, sports equipment) contaminated by the infected skin of a person with MRSA or staph bacteria."


According to a report by the NewScientis.com news service, "...In the Netherlands, where meticulous hygiene and isolation procedures were consciously adopted, the MRSA rates have fallen drastically and the Dutch now rate among the best in Europe."


* How is MRSA treated?


According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), "...MRSA are susceptible to several antibiotics." However, in recent times, certain strains of MRSA are resistant to often-used Vancomycin antibiotic.


In closing, MRSA is a preventable infection if good hygiene and isolation procedures are strictly observed. Having experienced MRSA first-hand with a close, family member, I have physically seen the life-threatening effects of this super-bug. On one hand, MRSA is a harmless germ, but on the other, it can render severe illness and even death. Speak to your healthcare providers about MRSA and ask what preventive measures are being taken to keep MRSA contained. The best way to prevent MRSA, is to be properly informed. Knowledge is key.


MRSA: the Silent Killer - Are You at Risk? © 2004 by C. Bailey-Lloyd


References:


1. CDC: [The Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA - cdc.gov/ncidod/hip/aresist/mrsafq.htm] MRSA - Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Fact Sheet


2. Health Protection Agency [London - hpa.org.uk] : Pamphlet - MRSA: Information for Patients (referred by Dr. Mark C. Enright, Senior Research Fellow, Royal Society University Research Fellow, (Univ. Biological Safety Officer), Dept. of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, United Kingdom]


3. New Scientist.com - Report: MRSA deaths up 15-fold in a decade, [newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994723]


C. Bailey-Lloyd is a professional writer of poetry books, poetry and informative articles on many subjects. More in-depth biographical information can be found at Somewhere Along the Beaten Path at MySpace.com.


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