Student Health Services Health News- Fall 2005
Staph Infection Or MRSA
Have you or someone you know had a skin infection that required a visit to a practitioner and were informed that you had a condition referred to as a “Staph Infection” or “MRSA”?
MRSA refers to an infection that is caused by a bacterium called Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.
We have a variety of bacteria that live on and in us. Staph is one of these bacteria that are found on the skin and in the nose of healthy people. Some of these species become very virulent and can become resistant to the usual antibiotics. Staph bacteria as well as other bacteria, are spread by direct physical contact, and indirect contact by touching objects (i.e. towels, sheets, wound dressings, clothes, workout areas, sports equipment) contaminated by a person with MRSA on their skin.
Our intact skin is our first line of defense against these invaders. Once the skin is interrupted (scratch, cut, puncture wound) the bacteria is allowed access into the body. It is a good idea at this point to wash copiously as to reduce the number of bacteria that will be allowed to invade. Our second line of defense, the white blood cells, then comes into action to fight the bacteria.
If these lines of defense are not successful in eliminating the offending organism, an infection occurs. Signs of infection are a warm, red, swollen, tender area on the skin. Drainage of purulent or bloody fluid may also occur. Your health care provider will evaluate the area. If the area has abscessed and is draining or is ready to be drained a culture of the drainage may be obtained and sent to the lab for diagnosis of MRSA. A treatment plan which may include antibiotics will then be given.
What can you do to prevent MRSA? Practice good hygiene:
- Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water.
- Keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered with a proper dressing until healed.
- Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or contaminated dressings from wounds.
- For more information, go to www.cdc.gov and search “MRSA”