Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

November 12, 2012

Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

MRSA is most commonly contracted by elderly or sick people who have spend time in hospital. Find out more about who is most susceptible, the symptoms and how it can be prevented.

Overview

Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus or more commonly known as MRSA is a bacterial infection, which has a resistance to antibiotic methicillin. There is a bacterium, which can be found on the skin surface of people in full health known as staphylococcus aureus and sometimes called staph or staph A for short. When this bacterium enters the body it can cause an infection of varying severity. Some people may experience minor health problems such as pimples or boils whilst others can develop more serious conditions such as infections of the blood or pneumonia. Methicillin is the name of the antibiotic most commonly used to treat staph infections. In the majority of cases it is an effective treatment. However there are some staph bacteria, which have developed a form of resistance to the methicillin antibiotic, making the treatment ineffective. These resistant staph bacteria are the ones called methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Who is susceptible to methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus?

The people most commonly infected by methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus are hospital patients and primarily those who are elderly or very sick. Long-term use of antibiotics can also increase ones risk of contracting the infection, as there is a chance that their bodies become immune to the antibiotics. Additional people at a higher risk that normal are intravenous drug users, individuals suffering from a long-term illness and individuals with a suppressed immune system. An open wound is an easy target for the infection to invade so people with bedsores or a tube entering the body such as those using a urinary catheter should take extra precautions.

Symptoms of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus

The symptoms of MRSA are similar to those of other staph infections. Some of them include:

  • Red and inflamed skin around the sites of wounds

  • Fever

  • Lethargic

  • Headaches

In the more severe cases further symptoms may include a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome and in the most extreme cases can even lead to death. While it is resistant to many antibiotics there are still forms of antibiotics that can effectively treat and cure MRSA. The length of time it takes for the infection to clear up depends on the severity of the infection and the prior health of the individual. In most cases it is spread through physical contact and is most often caught by those with a weakened immune system or illness keeping them in hospital.

How to prevent the spreading of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus

There are a number of things that can be done in order to reduce and prevent the spreading of MRSA. It is most important that these actions are carried out thoroughly in hospitals as this is where the bacteria is most easily spread.

  • Hand washing – In particular by nurses and doctors immediately after removing their gloves and between contact with patients.

  • Gloving – Gloves should be worn at all times when in contact with blood, bodily fluids and any contaminated items. Gloves should be changed between tasks and contact with different patients.

  • Making – A mask should be worn during any procedure if there is chance of splash back of bodily fluids or blood.

  • Gowning – Gowns should be worn during any procedure if there is a chance of splash back of bodily fluids or blood.

  • Patient care equipment – Thorough cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation of all equipment should be a priority.

  • Handling of laundry – Used linen should be handles with the appropriate care making sure not to contaminate anything else.

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