Be in the know about MRSA

RBC — MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) has received quite a bit of interest as the “Super-bug.”
Although we have not seen many cases of MRSA here in the Meeker area, it is important to know what MRSA is, what it looks like, how to treat it, and how to prevent it. The number of infected individuals is rising, nationally and here in Rio Blanco County. Also, treatment is not as straightforward anymore as with previous infections.
What is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)?
MRSA is a potentially, dangerous type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics and may cause skin and other infections. As with all regular staph infections, recognizing the signs and receiving treatment for MRSA skin infections in the early stages reduces the chances of the infection becoming severe. MRSA is spread by:

  • Having direct contact with another person’s infection.
  • Sharing personal items such as towels or razors, that have touched infected skin.
  • Touching surfaces of items, such as used bandages, contaminated with MRSA.

What does a staph or MRSA infection look like?
Staph bacteria, including MRSA, can cause skin infections that may look like a pimple or a boil and can be:

  • Red.
  • Swollen.
  • Painful.
  • Warm to the touch.
  • Have pus or other drainage.

More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections or surgical wound infections.

How can I prevent staph or MRSA skin infections?
Practice good hygiene:
1. Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
2. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
3. Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
4. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.

What should I do if I think I have a staph or MRSA infection?
Cover the area with a bandage and contact your healthcare provider.

Are staph and MRSA infections treatable?
Yes. Most staph and MRSA infections are treatable with antibiotics. If you are given an antibiotic, take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless your doctor tells you to stop taking it. Do not share antibiotics with other people or save unfinished antibiotics to use at another time.
However, many staph skin infections may be treated by draining the abscess or boil and may not require antibiotics. Drainage of skin boils or abscesses should only be done by a healthcare provider.
If after visiting your healthcare provider the infection is not getting better after a few days, contact them again. If other people you know or live with get the same infection tell them to go to their healthcare provider.
If I have a staph, or MRSA skin infection, what can I do to prevent others from getting infected?
You can prevent spreading staph or MRSA skin infections to others by following these steps:

  • Cover your wound.
  • Clean your hands.
  • Do not share personal items.
  • Talk to your doctor.

For more information call the Meeker Family Health Center at 878-4014 or go to the Center for Disease control www.cdc.gov.

Sources: Center for Disease Control and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services