Hand Hygiene Handwashing and Clean Hands Saves Lives

4Sep/080

What is MRSA? Why Care?


The Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria are known to be  responsible for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus infections commonly  referred to as MRSA.  MRSA infections can  affect different skin parts of the body and is considered to be serious because  of its resistant nature to numerous antibodies including penicillin.  For this reason, MRSA has been dubbed as the super germ.
mrsa
The primary cause of the super germ is due to the overuse of  antibiotics.  Since the discovery of  penicillin, antibiotics continue to be effective in treating bacteria related  infections.  However, the continued use  of antibiotics has caused certain bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotic  drugs like MRSA.  This problem is  compounded by the fact that doctors have been overprescribing antibiotics to  patients.

Since antibiotics have been viewed as a “cure-all” drug, numerous  physicians have been prescribing patients with sore throats, common cold, or  flu symptoms with antibiotics.  In some  cases, antibiotics are not needed at all.   In fact, patients also contribute to the rise of MRSA.

In addition to demanding drugs to cure any illness, many patients  who receive antibiotics do not follow instructions given by the doctor and pharmacist.  Patients frequently stop taking antibiotics  once they feel better even though they are told to continue treatment for a  prescribed period.  Others simply forget  to take the drug at the correct time.   These examples of carelessness provide ample conditions for the  remaining bacteria in the body to develop resistance to the drug used.

Fortunately, there are treatments available to cure patients  with MRSA; however, the treatment options are limited.  The fear of MRSA or any super germ is that we  will eventually exhaust all treatment options available.  The more drugs we use, the less the drug  becomes effective.   Although MRSA is known to critically affect  the elderly, children, and individuals with weak immune systems, cases of  healthy individuals becoming victims are rising.  Today, MRSA is responsible for thousands of  deaths every month in the U.S. and we can help minimize the spread of these  bacteria.

The CDC promotes hand hygiene through handwashing as a means  of reducing MRSA infections.  MRSA can be  spread through skin-to-skin contact, cuts on the skin, and even sharing  personal items like towels.  Good hygiene  such as frequent handwashing with soap and water is one of the best ways to  prevent getting MRSA and spreading it. Although MRSA is quite serious, we can do our  part to prevent the spread of MRSA.

Remember,  clean hands save lives!

References
-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Community-acquired   methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections-Michigan. MMWR.   1981;30:185-7.
-Buckingham S, McDougal L, Cathey L;et al. Emergence of Community-Associated   Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus at a Memphis, Tennessee   Children's Hospital. Pediatrics Infection Disease Journal. 23(7):619-624, 2004.