What is MRSA?

MRSA, or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, pronounced “mersa”, is a type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics. It is also known as CA-MRSA, to denote that it is a community-acquired infection.

How are MRSA infections spread?

MRSA is spread mainly through person-to-person contact or contact with a contaminated item such as a towel, clothing or athletic equipment. The majority of the MRSA cases are routine skin infections that can be easily treated with caught early. However, if misdiagnosed or ignored, the infection can turn more serious, and even life threatening.

MRSA Symptoms

It can first appear as a pimple or boil that becomes read and swollen, and often, it is mistaken for a spider bite. However, if the infection becomes invasive, potentially serious symptoms include fever, chills, shortness of breath and pain at the site.

Where are you likely to encounter MRSA?

At one time, the staph infection was most frequently seen among people in hospitals and healthcare facilities, but it has recently branched out into the community setting. Its favorite hangout these days is in the warm, moist areas of locker rooms and gyms.

High schools and colleges across the country have been reporting incidences of the infection among members of their athletic teams, especially football and wrestling, as they are the contact sports most often plagued by cuts and abrasions to the skin.

How can you prevent the spread of MRSA?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the single best way to prevent the spread of MRSA is efficient hand washing. In order to kill germs, you must wash thoroughly for 20-30 seconds, remembering to scrub under the nails as well.

The CDC has issues these recommendations for preventing the spread of MRSA among students, athletes and the community at large:

  • Practice good personal hygiene; shower after practices and competitions using liquid soap, NOT bar soap
  • Do not share personal items such as razors or towels
  • Do not wipe your body or face with the same towel used to wipe down equipment
  • If possible, do not share equipment
  • If equipment must be shared, regularly wipe down the equipment with commercial disinfectants or a solution that consists of one tablespoon bleach per one quart of water
  • Wash down mats with a disinfectant solution
  • Clean skin injuries with soap and water. Keep any cuts and wounds clean and covered with a dressing until healed
  • Avoid contact with other people’s wounds
  • Athletes should report all skin abrasions and infections to their coach for immediate care
  • Watch for signs of infections---redness, inflammation, swelling and tenderness at the site. Also watch for fever and abdominal pain
  • Skin infections caused by MRSA should be covered until healed, especially to avoid spreading the infection to others
  • Only take antibiotics when prescribed by a Doctor or Nurse Practitioner. Antibiotics should be taken as directed and the entire prescription should be finished; never stop antibiotics because the symptoms get better
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