In the past few weeks, reports of MRSA cases have become more common throughout the United States and Europe. Staph infections like this are scary buggers, but should we be concerned about a pandemic?
The answer is no. Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be taking precautions to prevent the spread of infection, but Dr Chris Ohl reports that the number of cases for MRSA in the past 3-5 years have not increased exponentially. The concern from Health Officials is not in the number of cases reported about the infection, but the lack of knowledge on the part of both hospital employees and the general public on what to look for. The sad truth is that many times a case for MRSA is misdiagnosed as a spider bite or even an ingrown hair that’s become infected.
It’s important to know what to look for, and the proper way to go about treating symptoms. MRSA infections start out as small red bumps, often resembling pimples or spider bites that can quickly turn into deep, painful abscesses.
You should contact a doctor if:
- You or your child has an area of skin that’s red, painful, swollen, and/or filled with pus
- You or your child has inflamed skin and is also feverish or feels sick
- Skin infections seem to be passing from one family member to another or if two or more family members have skin infections at the same time
MRSA is most often colonized within and around the nose, and like many infectious diseases people can have it without ever suffering symptoms. You shouldn’t wait for an outbreak to start taking preventative measures to keep from spreading or contracting the infection. None of these actions are extreme, or require a lot of effort.
- Keeping your hands clean with an antibacterial soap such as GymSoap. Hands should be washed after every visit to the restroom, whenever food or trash is handled, or after sneezing/coughing.
- Do not share personal items like towels, razors, loofahs, clothing, or sheets. Be sure to wipe down athletic equipment with sanitizing wipes before and after each use.
- Shower immediately after exercising (whether it be at the gym or on the field). GymSoap is a highly effective body soap that kills 99.9% of germs and bacteria.
- Keep open wounds covered, and don’t participate in games, practices or other events that involve physical contact if there’s a risk that your open wound(s) will become exposed.
- Sanitize your linens. If you have a cut or sore, wash towels and bed linens in a washing machine set to the “hot” water setting (with added bleach, if possible) and dry them in a hot dryer. Wash gym and athletic clothes after each wearing.
- If you have a skin infection that requires treatment, ask your doctor if you should be tested for MRSA. Doctors may prescribe drugs that aren’t effective against antibiotic-resistant staph, which delays treatment and creates more resistant germs. Testing specifically for MRSA may get you the specific antibiotic you need to effectively treat your infection.
- Use antibiotics appropriately. When you’re prescribed an antibiotic, take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better. Don’t stop until your doctor tells you to stop. Don’t share antibiotics with others or save unfinished antibiotics for another time. Inappropriate use of antibiotics, including not taking all of your prescription and overuse, contributes to resistance. If your infection isn’t improving after a few days of taking an antibiotic, contact your doctor.