In recent years, you may be like many people and have heard of MRSA but have no real idea of what it is. MRSA, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a type of bacteria that is highly resistant to antibiotic treatment. Having at least read or heard something about MRSA you may find yourself asking the question:
How dangerous are MRSA bacteria?
The direct, honest response to this question is:
What Really Is an MRSA Infection?
MRSA is a type of staph infection. Historically, staph infections didn’t present much of a health issue for people in developed countries like the United States.
Over the course of the past 30 to 40 years, doctors in the United States were aggressive in prescribing antibiotics. Many experts maintain that doctors over-prescribed antibiotics. For example, there is a myriad of examples of doctors prescribing antibiotics for viruses because they felt pressured to do so by their patients. The problem in prescribing in this manner is that antibiotics fight bacteria and have no effect on viruses.
In addition, with alarming regularity, patients prescribed antibiotics would not take the full cycle of medication. In other words, when a condition like an infection appeared to have cleared, they would stop taking prescribed antibiotics even though more dosages remained.
The net effect of these decisions contributed to what has become resistant to certain antibiotics. MRSA is perhaps the prime example of the end result of antibiotic resistance. Over time, different strains of MRSA bacteria have become resistant to an ever-wider spectrum of antibiotics. Nearly all researchers in the field of infection believe that the day will come when MRSA will be resistant to all antibiotics. They also maintain that such a day is not all that far off.
The Risk of Contracting MRSA
The reason MRSA has become more dangerous in recent times arises from the fact that it is now being contracted more regularly among the general population. Historically, MRSA was primarily contracted in a hospital setting.
A percentage of the general public carries MRSA on their skin and in their nose. These individuals may not be infected with MRSA and are only carriers. (Individuals who have to carry MRSA bacteria technically are said to be colonized with it.)
These individuals who are colonized with MRSA and are not infected by it have no idea that they are carriers of the bacteria. Thus, they can pass the bacteria on to other individuals in one of three different ways.
- They can directly contaminate people by coming into direct physical contact with them.
- They can indirectly contaminate people by touching an object and transmitting bacteria which is later transferred to another person.
- They can indirectly contaminate people by sneezing and spraying bacteria which either ends up directly others or lands on objects and is then transferred indirectly to other individuals.
Daily Strategies to Protect Against MRSA
There exist some very basic and yet generally effective strategies that you should follow to protect against an MRSA infection. Perhaps the most important and most basic strategy you need to employ in going about life day to day is to carefully wash your hands – regularly. Consistent, thorough handwashing is considered to be the most effective protection against germs, including MRSA.
If you’ve any type of wound, including a truly minor one, keep it covered. Even the most seemingly insignificant of wounds can provide an entryway into your skin and even deeper into your body for MRSA bacteria.
Another important daily strategy to employ to protect against an MRSA infection is to avoid sharing personal items. This includes sharing with family members because you simply cannot ascertain who in your household may have had contact with MRSA during the course of the day. Personal items that should not be shared include:
- Athletic gear
- Athletic equipment
Protecting yourself against MRSA also includes taking care to shower after athletics practices, games, and activities. Don’t tarry after athletic activities when it comes to showering.
Not that you are so inclined, but a person should never inject intravenous drugs. Typically, when this behavior occurs, people share needles. This is a practice that spreads infections of various types, including:
Suspected MRSA Contamination at Your Home
Due to the serious nature of an MRSA infection, if you believe that your residence has been exposed to MRSA, you need to think long and hard about the importance of engaging the services of a professional biohazard cleanup specialist to address the issue. An infectious disease remediation specialist has the skills, experienced, materials, and equipment necessary to address the presence of MRSA bacteria in a home, place of business or other location.
If a member of your household is diagnosed with MRSA not contracted in a medical setting, that individual may have been exposed to MRSA bacteria in your home. In the alternative, this household member may have been exposed to MRSA elsewhere in the community, became infected, and then brought the virus into your residence.