It can happen almost instantly. First there is a fever accompanied by pimples or insect bites, then there is pain and shortly afterwards – you are taken from an emergency room to the intensive care unit – and the treatments can seem endless. Sometimes surgery is required and recovery can take months! This is an example of what can happen when a person is attacked by MRSA.
MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It’s an infection caused by a type of staph bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Most MRSA cases have occurred in hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities. Recently, however, MRSA is found in the most unlikely places like the workplace or high school.
What can we do to fight this deadly infection? While these seem like the obvious answers, there are some simple and easy preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk of contracting the disease. These preventive measures to contain the spread of germs should also be taken to protect against flu. While some of these practices seem obvious, they are usually ignored on a daily basis and you would be surprised how many people fail to follow these simple preventive measures.
Wash your hands often for at least 15 seconds with soap and water. It is obvious. If you can’t wash your hands, bring a small bottle of disinfectant with you. If you have a cut, wash it immediately and put a band-aid on. Something as simple as a paper cut can turn into an infection – not necessarily MRSA, but it can turn into a pain.
Do not share your personal belongings. This may seem like an answer from Dr. Seem obvious, but sharing your personal items like towels, toiletries, and clothing is a great way to spread disease. Straight. Do not do it. Do. It.
Take a shower immediately after a workout, game, or workout with soap and water (yes, some people don’t). This is another answer from Dr. Also, be considerate of others in the gym and wipe the equipment down after use. It only takes a minute, but it helps.
Be careful with public places. Are you going to look like a germaphobe with a bottle of disinfectant? Probably. Can it help you to be hygienic? Certainly. In public places, this is the easiest way to spread colds, flu, and yes, MRSA. Congested areas, especially during cold and flu seasons, can be the best places to pick up a virus. If you have a workplace where you share a cubicle or phone, be sure to use sanitary wipes or sprays. This can help reduce the chance of discovering a nasty mistake.
Sneeze in the crook of your arm if you don’t have a handkerchief. You probably won’t get MRSA or a serious infection from someone who sneezes, but you can catch colds, flu, or other viruses. While it sounds (and probably is) gross, sneezing in the crook of your arm is the best way to stop the airborne germs from spreading. Think about it. If you sneeze, don’t have a tissue, and use your hands, you can easily spread germs in your home, office, or gym. Sneezing in the crook of your arm prevents airborne germs. Don’t worry about the look. They stop the germ flow.
Don’t touch your face or put your fingers in your mouth. Yes, it sounds obvious, but several times a day people touch their faces and put their fingers in their mouths. What about those yummy cookies your colleague brought along? Sure they look good, but are your hands washed? Eating with your hands is the easiest way to spread germs. If you have an office buffet where you have to eat “finger food”, keep the bottle of disinfectant nearby.
When to see a doctor
When should you see a doctor? The best way to fight a disease is to spot it early on. The warning signs of MRSA are small red bumps on your skin that resemble insect bites or red pimples. Often times, these pimples are filled with pus and feel warm when you touch them. Next comes a fever. If you have any of these symptoms it is best to speak to your doctor.
Remember, MRSA, if left untreated, can have serious complications to the heart, lungs, bones, joints, and blood. So next time you have a fever with a rash, don’t think you’re going to see a doctor – it could be something serious. And it might seem a little redundant to give such simple warning signs, but the truth is, MRSA can hide in sight – and caution can save your life.
Of course, the chances that you will develop MRSA are small. You are more likely to catch a cold or flu than MRSA. Also, keep in mind that MRSA is more likely to occur in healthcare. Healthcare providers take great precautions to prevent such incidents from occurring. However, if you see something out of the ordinary in healthcare, don’t be afraid to question it with a healthcare professional. Sometimes it is not obvious to others to say what you think is obvious.
Look for Part 2 of “Fighting The Flu” on Friday: Diet, Lifestyle, Minimize the Risk of Flu.