MRSA Infection

1 What is MRSA Infection?

MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) can be defined as a bacterium that can cause infections in different parts of the body. It is a tough problem to treat successfully, since MRSA is resistant to numerous antibiotics.

Over a period of time, staph bacteria have developed resistance to penicillin-related antibiotics which also includes methicillin. These bacteria that have become resistant are termed as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. 

WhatisMRSA

Staphylococcus aureus is a destructive bacterium that is normally found in the nose and skin of the human body. The skin infection caused by this bacterium is one of the most common skin problems in the United States. One in three people have staph present in their body but do not have an infection. And two in one hundred people have MRSA.

The bacterium that causes the staph infection can multiply in numbers every half an hour in favorable conditions. The staph bacteria can enter the human body and attack the bloodstream through damaged skin or during procedures or surgeries. Once they enter the body, they can cause infection that can range from mild to severe.

There are approximately 94,360 cases of invasive MRSA infections diagnosed every year in the United States,  and around 18,650 deaths due to this medical problem.

MRSA is many times referred to as a superbug since it is difficult to treat. The symptoms that are caused by MRSA will depend on the location of the infection. This infection begins with minor sores, pimples, or boils on the skin. Later, this infection can turn out to be very serious and at times even fatal. In most cases, this infection is not life-threatening.

  • MRSA can be divided into two categories: health care-associated MRSA and community-associated MRSA
  • MRSA is a bacterial infection that is resistant to commonly used antibiotics

Healthcare-associated MRSA

People who have been in nursing homes, dialysis centers, and hospitals are most likely to get this infection, and it is called healthcare-associated MRSA or HR-MRSA. It is associated with instruments such as tubing and procedures such as surgery.

Almost 86% cases of invasive MRSA infections are healthcare-associated.

Health care-associated MRSA occurs in the following conditions:

  • An injury or break on the skin, for instance a surgical wound, burn,  and intravenous line, anything that permits the bacteria to enter the body
  • Individuals who are old, who have a weak immune system due to certain medical conditions, who have complex health problems, or those who take certain medications that weaken the functioning of their immune system
  • Places like hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings are visited by a number of people that include patients with different ailments, their families, doctors, nurses, and other staff. It is a favorable environment for bacteria to spread from one person to another or even from an object to a person

Community-associated MRSA

MRSA is spread through factors aside from healthcare and is less widespread. Almost 14% of MRSA infection is through CA-MRSA

CA-MRSA occurs in the following cases:

  • When there is skin-to-skin contact, for instance in contact sports like rugby, basketball, wrestling, etc.
  • Residing in places that are very crowded
  • Cuts on the skin
  • Injecting illegal drugs
  • Infected surfaces
  • Earlier use of antibiotics

2 Symptoms

The symptoms of MRSA infection are swollen, painful red bumps like spider bites or pimples. They're full of pus and warm to the touch.

They can occur with fever which can lead to deep abscesses that require surgical draining. The bacteria can burrow deep into the body which can lead to life-threatening infections in joints, bones, heart valves, lungs, the bloodstream, and surgical wounds, but some bacteria remains confined to the skin.

Some of the serious signs and symptoms of MRSA are:

  • Fever and chills
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Muscle pain
  • Inflammation and tenderness in the infected area
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Coughing
  • Rashes

3 Causes

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. 

MRSA can be transmitted from one person to another and also from one person to an object to another person. It is not only necessary for physical contact for the MRSA infection to spread, the MRSA bacteria is capable of surviving on different surfaces for many years. For instance, the bacteria can survive on sinks, doors, taps, cleaning equipment, etc.

Staph bacteria are harmless, but once it enters the body through a wound or cut, it can cause minor skin problems.

Less than 2 percent of the population carries the Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If antibiotics are not used properly, it may lead to MRSA, but bacteria sometimes survive antibiotic treatment, which leads to resistance to the medicine.

MRSA is caused due to resistance to antibiotics that have been used unnecessarily for a prolonged period of time.

Gradually, the body stops responding to these antibiotics. Also, if a person takes antibiotics properly as prescribed by the doctor, it leads to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria since they do not destroy all the germs they target. And these germs that survive from one antibiotic soon start to understand how to avoid other antibiotics.

4 Making a diagnosis

Doctors diagnose MRSA by checking a tissue sample or nasal secretions for signs of drug-resistant bacteria. 

Visit your doctor, who may refer you to a specialist depending on the affected area. If the bacteria is just on the surface of your skin, you will most likely be referred to a dermatologist.

Bring a notebook with you. Write down symptoms you are experiencing. Write down all vitamins, supplements, and medications that you are taking every day.

Your doctor may recommend tests.

A sample of the infected area is placed in a bowl of nutrients, which promotes rapid bacteria growth. It normally takes around 48 hours for the bacteria to grow, so the patient will have to wait for longer than that to get the results. More recently, there have been tests developed that only take a few hours to produce results. 

Describe thoroughly:

  • Details of all the signs and symptoms, even those that might not be seemingly related to the problem
  • Details about any medical problems or surgeries you have had in the past
  • Details about family medical history
  • List of all prescribed or over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and dietary suppliments

Your doctor can also take a look at your symptoms to identify MRSA if you have a skin rash.

5 Treatment

Some doctors will treat MRSA infection with blood, but others will just drain the abscess. Healthcare-associated MRSA, or HR-MRSA, and CA-MRSA, or community-associated MRSA, still respond to antibiotics.

6 Prevention

Here are some tips to prevent MRSA:

  • Wash your hands (the number one rule for germ protection), scrub your hands with soap for at least 15 seconds and dry with a clean soft towel
  • Make use of hand sanitizer only when there is no access to water and soap
  • Wounds, deep cuts, and abrasions must be covered all the time with a sterile and dry bandage so it will not be infected
  • Do not share your personal items like clothing and towels
  • Shower or take a bath every day after returning from a foreign environment
  • Sanitize your belongings like clothes, sheets, and towels especially if you have cuts or injuries
  • Clothes worn to the gym or for any outdoor activity should be washed after every use

Some people who have MRSA are kept in isolation, especially in hospitals, and contaminated things in these environments must be disinfected.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

There are some natural remedies for MRSA infection which includes:

  • Pascalite that has the ability to draw infections from the wound,
  • Turmeric that has properties for antibacterial and anti-inflammatory,
  • Oregano oil for treatment of antibiotic-resistant superbugs and kills bacteria,
  • Tea tree oil that is an excellent treatment on open wounds,
  • Olive leaf extract that has an active compound which provides immune system support.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

You can cope with MRSA infection by doing things that prevents bacteria or germs to enter your body.

Washing of hands with soap and water should be done every day.

It is a must to take a bath every day especially after gym sessions.

Do not share your personal belongings to anyone for they might have bacteria that can be passed to you.

Cover your wounds to avoid infections.

9 Risks and Complications

You are at risk of MRSA if you are working in a hospital or nursing homes or if you are a child care worker or residing in a long term care facility.

You are at risk too if you had medical tubing like catheters. You can also get MRSA if you are an athlete especially contact sports, living in crowded places or men having sex with men.

Your heart, joints, bloodstream, bones and lungs might be affected by MRSA.

Risk factors for developing HA-MRSA are;

  • Hospitalization: People who have to stay in hospitals, nursing homes, or any other health care settings since it includes people who are suffering from different ailments and are weak. It also has a lot of objects through which the bacteria can enter the body and cause an infection. Also, healthy people who are staying in long-term care facility can get infected.
  • Old age: As a person grows old, they tend to develop various medical conditions and this also causes a weak immune system making them most vulnerable to get infected.
  • Weak immune system: People can have a weak immune system due to various factors like hospitalization, kidney dialysis, cancer treatment, HIV/AIDs, some medications, injection of illegal drugs into the body etc.
  • Open wounds, injuries, burns and cuts on skin: Offer an open entry to the bacteria to get into the body.
  • Intravenous drip inserted or urinary catheters: They also serve as mediums for passage for MRSA to travel into the body
  • Severe Skin conditions
  • Surgery
  • Antibiotics for certain treatments

Risk factors for developing CA-MRSA are;

  • Taking part in different contact sports since MRSA can spread through cut, injuries and skin-to-skin contact.
  • Residing in crowded and unhygienic conditions like military training camps, child care centers, on-campus housing and jails. In the past there have been outbreaks of MRSA cases.
  • Homosexuals, men who have intercourse with men.
Top