MRSA is the medical acronym for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. Methicillin was the antibiotic once used in the treatment of bacterial infections and is a derivative of penicillin. Staphylococcus Aureus is a bacterium frequently found in the human respiratory tract and on the skin. It is a common cause of skin infections, respiratory disease and food poisoning. MRSA is commonly spread among those who share close quarters, especially athletes because locker rooms can be crawling with bacteria. Athletes of contact sports are especially at risk due to breaks in the skin, such as cuts and abrasions as well as the repeated skin-to-skin contact. Athletes also share items and surfaces that come into direct skin contact. Having experienced infection professionally treating patients and personally from playing football, I know about the related difficulties of treatment and prevention.
Antibiotics kill bacteria. Antibiotics do not work on viruses because viruses are not alive, so there is nothing to kill. Be responsible with antibiotics by taking them as directed. In addition, for the good of all public health, since bacteria and viruses can have similar symptoms, insist that your health care provider obtain a “culture test” or even a blood or urine test to confirm diagnosis. Do not pressure your MD to give you antibiotics if they are not needed. Common illnesses that should not to be treated with antibiotics are colds, influenza, ear infections, most coughs, and bronchitis. Misuses of antibiotics are the primary causes of drug resistant bacteria.
All of us should be concerned about antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is a top concern of the Centers for Disease Control. Widespread use of these drugs promotes the spread of resistance. Often, I hear that someone has given their prescription antibiotic drugs to a friend or family member that had their similar symptoms. In these cases, the individuals whom these drugs were initially prescribed did not take all their medication as prescribed. Therefore, some bacteria survived, continued to multiply, and mutated in some way. This occurrence reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of the drug that was developed to treat the bacteria when it is prescribed in the future. Secondly, the same thing could occur within the individuals who were (illegally) given the antibiotics. One of the best resistant preventative practices is for only the intended patient use their prescribed antibiotics as directed and for the appropriate duration. In other words, do not share your prescription drugs!
MRSA symptoms depend on the infection’s location. If you have an MRSA skin infection, it can sometimes be mistaken for a spider bite. An MRSA skin infection can be swollen, red, painful and/or pus filled. If lungs are infected then pneumonia can develop with shortness of breath, fever, cough and chills. Other symptoms will develop if urinary tract and bloodstream become infected too.
Spread of MRSA and other bacteria is generally through human-to-human contact. Appropriate hygiene is important. Basic hand washing is effective in preventing transmission. Do not share personal items such as towels, razors, washcloths etc. Wash clothing, uniforms and equipment regularly. Use a dryer to dry clothes completely. Pay attention to signs and symptoms, and get treatment as soon as possible. If you have a skin infection, do not pick or pop the sore. Cover possible infections with a clean, dry bandage until you can be seen by your doctor. Also, do not save some of your antibiotics for the next time you become ill, but rather take them exactly as the healthcare provider prescribes. Do not skip doses, take them for the full duration to ensure that all bacteria are killed and not allowed to survive, multiply, and develop a resistance. Never use someone else’s prescription drugs. They may not be beneficial for your illness.