MRSA (Methicllin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is a type of bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) that is resistant to many antibiotics. MRSA infections are frequently found in patients in healthcare facilities and hospitals. The infection is commonly spread by direct contact with the hands of a health care worker or patient who is infected or carrying the organism. MRSA is responsible for an estimated 120,000 infections annually. The bacteria normally live on a persons skin or in an individuals nose.
Symptoms of MRSA Infections
MRSA infections may cause an expansive range of symptoms. The part of the body that is infected determines how severe the symptoms can be. An individual’s surgical wound, burns, catheter sites, eyes, skin and blood can become infected. MRSA infections result in redness, swelling and tenderness at the site of infection. Additionally a person with MRSA may not have any of these symptoms. Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days up till months and can eventually cause death.
How MRSA Infections Are Detected
MRSA infections can be diagnosed when a physician takes a sample from the infected site and submits it to a laboratory. The laboratory places the specimen on a special culture plate containing nutrients, then incubates the plate in a warmer and then identifies the bacteria. The final step is for the laboratory to conduct tests using various antibiotics to determine if the bacteria are resistant (able to withstand or tolerate) or sensitive (susceptible to killing) to select antibiotics.
How To Prevent MRSA From Spreading
Meticulous hand washing is the single most effective way to control the spread of MRSA. Health care workers must wash their hands immediately after contact with every patient. If a patient has an MRSA infection, health care workers should wear disposable gloves, or even a gown should be worn depending on the type of contact. Patients should also wash their hands to avoid spreading the bacteria to others. Additional steps should include the following:
- The patient should be isolated from unnecessary contact with staff and other patients in a single room, or share a room with other patients who have MRSA.
- Linen and clothing should be carefully sterilized.
The antibiotic of choice for an infected impatient is Vancomycin given intravenously. Oral clindamycin may be used in minor soft tissue infections in outpatients.
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