New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Health

MRSA Can Be A Very Serious Skin Infection

There are many different types of skin infections, but Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, known as MRSA, is one to pay attention to. MRSA is a type of bacteria on the skin that cannot be treated by many antibiotics. The bacteria can enter the body through a sore, cut, breathing tube or a catheter. The infection caused by MRSA can be minor and limited to a small red area on the skin or more serious, involving the heart, lung, bones or blood. MRSA can cause large gaping wounds on the skin that can allow other infections into the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the estimated number of people developing a serious MRSA infection in 2005 was 94,360. Approximately 18,650 people died during a hospital stay related to a serious MRSA infection. You can get MRSA in a hospital or in the community through direct skin-to-skin contact. Rates are highest in a hospital setting. People most likely to have problems from MRSA include adults ages 65 or older, Blacks, males, and athletes, especially wrestlers due to skin-to-skin contact.

In an effort to increase community awareness, there is a need to know the signs and symptoms of MRSA. Like all other infections, the ability to recognize the signs and symptoms and receiving treatment for MRSA in the early stages helps to reduce the chances of the infection becoming severe. People often mistake a MRSA infection for some type of bite. MRSA first appears as a bump or infected area on the skin that may be warm to the touch, painful, red, swollen, or full of pus. Severe MRSA infection symptoms include chest pain, fatigue, fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, shortness of breath or a rash. If you experience any of these signs, you should consult a health care provider as soon as possible for evaluation.

There are many ways to protect yourself and your family from MRSA:

  1. Avoid having direct contact with another person’s cuts or infection
  2. Discourage sharing personal items such as towels and razors
  3. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered
  4. Perform hand washing before meals and multiple times throughout the day, especially after touching surfaces in a hospital
  5. Know the signs of MRSA skin infections and get treated early
  6. Practice good hygiene
  7. Wash down gym/exercise equipment before use

If you or someone you know has MRSA there is treatment for this infection. The most important thing to keep in mind about the treatment of MRSA is do not try and drain the infection yourself- doing so could worsen or spread it to others. When the skin needs to be drained it should only be done by a healthcare professional. In some cases, an antibiotic is prescribed. If so, it is very important to take all the doses prescribed otherwise treatment may fail. If you think you have MRSA, cover the affected region, wash hands, and call your healthcare provider.