My two weeks in Brazil back in 2004 were originally intended to be spent traveling, sight-seeing and relaxing. However, the awful bout with Hepatitis A, more than likely caused by any of the tainted food I consumed or from any of the waters I swam in, spoiled what was to be a rather joyous trip.
Brazil, being so close to the equator and teeming with various jungles, forests and a plethora of different water sources; lakes, rivers, ponds, canals, etc. offered up the perfect environment for our lovely little insect friends, the Mosquitoes.
Of course, before I left the states on my 14-day excursion, I had a multitude of different vaccinations for what the winged-vampires might be carrying. The usual suspects: Malaria and Yellow Fever, among others. And, armed with my mosquito deterring citronella bracelets, necklaces and other devices as well as my can of spray I was none too worried about the beasts.
Being the warmer months and being into the rainy season a bit, as expected, the Mosquitoes were in full force as I arrived. As well as the hordes of other biting insects the country had to offer. Midges, flies and other entomological nightmares just to name a few and I encountered, what seemed at the time, like all of them.
So, despite my preparations and ammunition thrown at the critters, it was no surprise that I returned home to the states with a nice red splotchy canvas of bites on my arms and legs. It’s only natural and I don’t fault the little ones for doing what they do. I also wouldn’t expect them to fault me for scratching the daylights out the bites either, which I did. A lot!
As the days went by, most of the bites healed and went away with little trouble. Except two on my left calf. These two were swollen, a weird shade of purple and red, oozing like crazy and were insanely itchy. I immediately began treating them with antibiotic ointment and other creams but after a week, they had only gotten worse.
Off to the doctor I went, expecting something stronger, maybe an internal antibiotic or something, which is exactly what my doctor gave me. I spent a week on the antibiotics without any improvement. In fact, it had gotten even worse, now spreading. It was almost as if the two wounds were beginning to merge. I also noticed that the center of them had begun to sort of hollow out and form a tiny tunnel.
Round two at the doctor’s office. This time, he did some lab work and a scraping of the wounds and sent me home with another dose of antibiotics to take. I continued to deal with the effects of what was clearly a massive infection. Now inflamed and hot to the touch and causing me great pain when I put pressure down, I was more than worried.
As any curious person with an ailment typically does, I turned to the Internet. I typed in: “infection that won’t heal” into my search engine and was overwhelmed by the barrage of results for “MRSA”. Unfamiliar, I began to read about it.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Yeah, that’s a mouthful, which is why most people use the acronym “MRSA” for short. I was convinced and two days later, my doctor confirmed what I suspected. My pesky little insect bites had developed MRSA. Most likely from me scratching them. So, not only was I infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection, I was also most likely to blame. I knew I should have left them alone.
My doctor drained the abscesses twice a week and placed me on a different and heavier dose of antibiotics. It took an entire month to finally send the infection packing and another month after that for the wounds to abate. I now am left with a medium sized scar on my calf..
MRSA can be extremely difficult to treat and the longer it is left untreated, the more dire the consequences could be. MRSA can not only infect your skin but also your blood, lungs and other organs and can be fatal. Any wound that will not heal should be looked at by your doctor(s) immediately.