My daughter had a sore on her knee. It looked similar to a great big white head or boil. The skin around it was red. It continued to get bigger so I took her to the doctor. I was told she had MRSA pronounced Mersa. It stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. I had never heard of this before and had no clue what it was. They drained the white the boil thing and gave her antibiotics telling me this infection was resistant to antibiotics and would probably take a couple tries to find the correct one. I then realized if I didn’t know what it was lots of people probably did not. So continue reading to find out what MRSA is and how to take care of it.
Staphylococcus Aureus is a bacterium that is often found in the noses of 20-30% of normal healthy people and is also found on people’s skin. Most strains of this bacterium are sensitive to many antibiotics and infections can be effectively treated. Staphylococcus Aureus which are resistant to an antibiotic called methicillin are referred to as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA. Many commonly prescribed antibiotics are not effective against these bacteria’s. Some MRSA strains occur in epidemics, these are indicated by an ‘E’ before MRSA, and may be distinguished from others by special laboratory techniques.
Most patients with MRSA are isolated are colonized with this organism rather than infected. Colonization means the presence of the organism on the skin, or in the nose but they do not have any illness. But if the patient also has a fever and inflammation associated with the presence of MRSA then they are considered to be infected. Most patients become infected particularly if they have been put at greater risk, such as following an operation or the presence of a bladder catheter, intravenous infusion or a surgical drain. These patients may then develop illnesses similar to those caused by methicillin-sensitive S. aureus such as wound and skin infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia or ‘blood poisoning.
MRSA rarely, if ever, presents a danger to the general public. It is no more dangerous or virulent than methicillin-sensitive S. aureus but it is a lot more difficult to treat. The friends or family of someone with MRSA usually need not take any special precautions and should not be discouraged from normal social contact. Sometimes those living with a person who has MRSA may need to take a nasal spray for 30 days to prevent contracting MRSA.
Colonization with MRSA in the absence of illness or any clinical evidence of infection may be treated with some surface applied agents. This also includes using special antibiotics, applied inside the nose, as well as washing, and bathing and with disinfectants such as chlorhexidine. These measures will help reduce the possibility of the patient becoming infected or spreading the bacterium to other people. When infection is present, antibiotics that are commonly used to treat methicillin-sensitive S. aureus are not effective and the patient will require treatment with other antibiotics such as vancomycin or teicoplanin. These two antibiotics are expensive, can be toxic and have to be given by intravenous infusion. Patients infected with MRSA must be admitted and treated in the hospital. This is only one of the reasons why a lot of effort is made to try and prevent the spread of this bacterium to other people.
When caring for someone with MRSA make sure you wash your hands before and after contact. Make sure to keep the affected area clean. Take all the medications given or until your doctor says it is ok to stop. MRSA can be treated just make sure to go to the doctor anytime you notice a sore or boil that appears without any known cause.
MRSA can be contracted by simply handling a grocery cart that someone who has MRSA had previously handled. Just like the common cold you can get MRSA no matter how clean or dirty a person is. Though washing your hands whenever possible helps decrease the risk of spreading germs.