02-27-2012 (Dayton, OH) -
Approximately 80,000 kids are infected and hospitalized each year with MRSA, with more than 10,000 of those cases resulting in death from staph, 5,000 linked to MRSA.
MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or “Staph” as it is most commonly referred to, is a contagious, bacterial infection that is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact. While most “staph” bacteria aren’t harmful, MRSA is resistant to certain antibiotics, such as penicillin, making it more difficult to treat.
How is MRSA spread?
While anyone can contract MRSA, people are more likely to get it if they:
- Use towels, washcloths, clothes or any personal item of someone who has MRSA
- Touch objects that have MRSA bacteria on the surface
- Have openings in their skin such as cuts or scrapes
- Touch the infected skin of someone with MRSA
Staph infections cause a red, swollen, and often painful area on the skin that may look like boils, a cut that is swollen, hot and filled with pus, or a sore that looks and feels like a spider bite. Occasionally, MRSA may cause more serious infections such as pneumonia or bloodstream infections, but these are rare. For more severe infections, you may experience several of these symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Muscle aches
- Shortness of breath
How is MRSA treated?
“Medications can be prescribed by your doctor to treat infections, medicated ointments (Bactroban can be tried to eradicate the carriage of the germs in the nose of some persons), and special soaps (Hibiclens can be used on the skin for periodic washing),” says Sherman Alter, MD, director of infectious disease at Dayton Children’s. “Nevertheless, it is hard to treat.”
Draining the infection is one of the first steps in treating MRSA. Do not attempt to drain the infection yourself. This procedure should be performed at the doctor’s office. Keep the wound clean and dry. If you are given an antibiotic, be sure to take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
Follow these tips on how to keep you and your family infection free.
- Wash your hands. Clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid contact with other people’s wounds and bandages
- Do not poke or squeeze sores
- Be careful if you are around people with a weak immune system such as newborn babies, the elderly or anyone with a chronic disease.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
- Avoid sharing personal items such as towels and razors
- Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered until completely healed
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