Three years ago, I was fortunate enough to defeat a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infection in a quick battle; a battle I never want to have again.
MRSA is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. It’s tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus — or staph — because it’s resistant to some commonly used antibiotics.
The symptoms of MRSA depend on where you’re infected. Most often, it causes mild infections on the skin, like sores or boils. But it can also cause more serious skin infections or infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs, or the urinary tract.
Though most MRSA infections aren’t serious, some can be life-threatening. Many public health experts are alarmed by the spread of tough strains of MRSA. Because it’s hard to treat, MRSA is sometimes called a “super bug”.
The majority of MRSA infections are classified as CA-MRSA (community acquired) or HA-MRSA (hospital- or health-care-acquired). MRSA infections are transmitted from person to person by direct contact with the skin, clothing, or area (for example, sink, bench, bed, and utensil) that had recent physical contact with a MRSA-infected person. The majority of CA-MRSA starts as skin infections; HA-MRSA can begin an infection of the skin, a wound (often a surgical site), or a location where medical devices are placed (catheters, IV lines, or other devices).
My case was CA-MRSA caused by a long-standing case of cellulitis in both of my lower legs. Cellulitis is a fast spreading bacterial infection of the skin and tissues beneath the skin–in my case the skin on my lower legs began to “slough off”. This drove my body temperature up to 105 degrees and I broke out in a rash all over my body.
I work around very sick people, some of these people are in and out of the hospital and/or treatment centers. The doctors that treated me said that the open skin on my legs was most likely infected by one of my patients. They confirmed the presence of MRSA by doing blood cultures and treated it with seven days of intravenous Vancomycin, an antibiotic used mainly for serious infections. I continued several rounds of oral antibiotics after my discharge, the cellulitis took several weeks to clear up. Today I have scarring and discoloration on my lower legs, but there’s no trace of the menacing “super-bug”.
I was very lucky with how quickly my infection was treated and cleared up. This experience showed me that I need to pay much more attention to any minor health conditions that can possibly indicate or lead to another MRSA infection. Next time, if there is one, I may not be so lucky.