Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a rather large threat in the medical world, one that I have seen firsthand during my time as an emergency medical responder. It manifests as an infection much like other staph infections, but is immune to most medicines often used to treat staph strains. There is some information that most people should know about it, though, such as details on how it can be contracted, signs and symptoms, and options for treatment.
How It’s Contracted
MRSA is most often contracted by either direct contact with infected wounds, or by contact with improperly sanitized porous items like towels or razors, usually in a hospital setting. When it was discovered, a strong push was made in the hospital community to overhaul the standard of cleanliness that hospitals and other medical establishments held, especially when it comes to laundry. Items that had for years been considered safe to reuse after cleaning were switched out for disposable options, and this has caused the trend in infection to go down.
It is still a sizable threat. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2% of the population currently carries the infection, and that number is slowly on the rise. Researchers are constantly looking for ways to combat the spread of the infection and new ways to try and treat it, but vigilance on the personal front is often the best way to prevent it. Ask your care professional if they have washed their hands, ask about the cleaning procedures they take with their equipment and bedding, and ask what their MRSA infection statistics for the institution look like.
Signs and Symptoms of Infection
MRSA infection looks much like any other staff infection if you’ve had one before, which includes redness, swelling, open wounds, drainage, and warmth around the infection site as well as a fever. Without a culture being sent to the lab, though, there is no way to determine whether the infection is MRSA or some other infection, so it’s best to go to the doctor if you’re showing signs of an infection and get it looked at regardless.
One of the signs of infection is a build-up of puss, and draining that puss is a big part of treatment. Do not try to drain it yourself, seek medical help in doing so. Antibiotics may also be prescribed due to its bacteria source, and make sure you follow the directions your medical care provider gives you for dosages and length of treatment.
One mistake that some patients make while being treated is that they see symptoms go away, and decide they are better and stop taking the treatment. This is incorrect. Often an infections signs and symptoms disappear before the problem actually goes away, so stopping treatment early can cause the infection to come back, sometimes even stronger than before.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control