Staph infections are caused by common bacteria that reside within the skin and can sometimes appear in the nasal passages
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staphylococcal bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. These bacteria can cause a range of illnesses, from minor skin infections to life-threatening illnesses such as pneumonia, bloodstream infections and surgical site infections.
MRSA was first identified in the UK in 1961. Since then, it has become one of the major causes of hospital-acquired infections around the world. In the United States, it is estimated that there are 2 million people living with MRSA each year, and the infection kills around 11,000 people annually. MRSA is found in the environment, but is most commonly acquired in a health care setting, such as a hospital or long-term care facility. This is because these settings involve people who are more susceptible to infection, such as those with weakened immune systems or who are receiving medical treatments that suppress the immune system.
MRSA can also be spread between people through skin-to-skin contact or through contact with contaminated surfaces. Proper hygiene, including frequent handwashing and following the “two-minute scrub” technique, is often recommended to reduce the spread of MRSA. In addition, health care workers should wear protective gear, such as gloves and masks, when treating patients.
MRSA, although serious, is quite rare and occurs when the bacterial strain of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) does not respond favorably to antibiotics that are used in the treatment of staph infections. The complete name for MRSA is Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
The bacteria can lead to infections when they enter through a laceration, breathing tube, or catheter. The infection can range from local and minor to a more serious infection which can involve the blood, bone, lung, or heart.
Staph infections are liable to become more serious in individuals with weaker immune systems. This includes individuals in long-term care facilities, hospitals, as well as those who are undergoing kidney dialysis.
Types of MRSA Infections
There are two types of MRSA infections. The first is healthcare-associated MRSA, which arises in individuals who have recently been in a health care-facility or a hospital particularly those who have had surgery or been hospitalized. MRSA accounts for a high percentage of staph infections, which are acquired in a hospital. The second type is community-associated MRSA, which often occurs among athletes who frequently share personal items and equipment, as well as in children who attend daycare, military members, and tattooed individuals.
Symptoms of MRSA
Common symptoms of staph infections are red and swollen skin, fever, abscesses of the skin, warmth of the skin, as well as drainage of fluids from the affected area. There are several symptoms of serious infections include: pain in the chest, chills, fatigue, fever, cough, headache, aches in the muscles, rashes, and difficulty breathing.
Tests and Exams to Diagnose MRSA
A number of symptoms may initially present themselves with an MRSA infection. Depending upon these symptoms, the physician may conduct a number of tests in order to determine whether or not Staphylococcus aureus is the cause of the infection. Some of these tests may include: blood cultures, skin cultures, urine cultures, sputum cultures, and cultures of the fluid drainage from the site of the infection.
The most common treatment is the draining of the sore in the skin. This is can be done within the physician’s office. MRSA infections which prove to be more serious are far more difficult to treat. The available antibiotics which can be used are daptomycin, clindamycin, doxycycline, linezolid or zyvox, minocycline, tetracycline, tremethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and vancomycin or vancocin.
It is absolutely essential for a patient to completely finish the entire recommended dose of antibiotics even if the individual feels better before the antibiotics treatment has been completed. The halting of treatment before the end of the round of antibiotics can lead to the development of resistance against those antibiotics, as well as infections which can occur due to relapse.
If the infection is more serious, it may be necessary for additional treatments to be pursued. These treatments may involve dialysis of the kidneys, oxygen treatments, as well as medications and fluids which can administered through the vein.
Prognosis and Complications
The successful recovery of a patient largely depends on the infections’ severity, as well as the overall health of the individual. If MRSA causes the onset of pneumonia or infections of the blood, fatalities are not uncommon. Possible side effects of serious MRSA staph infections are cellulitis, blood poisoning, heart valve infections or endocarditis, pneumonia, and toxic shock syndrome. If the infections go untreated, organ failure and fatality may occur.
It is essential to maintain personal hygiene in order to avoid MRSA infections. Such practices should include the frequent washing of hands particularly when an individual enters or leaves a hospital or health care facility, the washing of doctor’s and nurse’s hands before they interact with patients, and the use of separate personal items such as razors and towels between individuals as MRSA can be spread with these contaminated items. Other precautions include the covering of wounds with clean bandages, the cleaning of shared athletic equipment before and after use, the avoidance of shared saunas and whirlpools if a user has a sore, as well as ensuring that all of the bathing facilities are hygienic and clean.