Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) or simply MRSA is a type of bacteria that is known to cause skin infections as well as other varied types of infections. According to scientific literature, there are designations for the bacteria depending on where the patient acquired the bacteria. These designations include:
- Community acquired MRSA, also referred to as CMRSA or ca-MRSA.
- Hospital acquired MRSA, also referred to healthcare-acquired MRSA, HA-MRSA or HMRSA.
- Epidemic MRSA also referred to as EMRSA.
The different strains of MRSA can be found in every part of the world and can be passed from one individual to another.
How Is MRSA Spread and Transmitted?
How is MRSA spread? Easy! Since MRSA is contagious, it can be passed on from one person to another through contact. Occasionally, one does not have to come into contact with a MRSA patient to get infected. This is because the bacteria can also spread through the touching of materials as well as surfaces that are contaminated with MRSA.
Generally, there are two major ways through which individuals can get infected with MRSA. The first way is through coming into contact with an infected person or a carrier and the second way is by contact with contaminated surfaces such as floors, door handles, towels or sinks.
The normal skin tissues in human beings have the ability to prohibit the development of the MRSA infection. However, the infections can occur if there are abrasions, cuts or skin flaws at the time of contact. Most healthy individuals develop the MRSA infections because they fail to take note of minor skin scrapes and imperfections when coming into contact with surfaces or other individuals. This is why most MRSA infections occur in school team players, dormitory residents and service personnel is constant close body contact.
Symptoms of MRSA Infections
Since we have known "how is MRSA spread", we should be aware of its symptoms so as to get early detection and treatment. MRSA infections are mostly skin infections and thus come with noticeable symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
- Cellulitis. This is an infection of the skin that also affects the fat that lies underneath the skin. Normally, cellulitis will start as small red bumps with some areas looking like bruises.
- Boils. These are pus-filled infections of the hair follicles.
- Abscesses. This is simply the accumulations of pus under or in the skin.
- Sty. This is an infection that occurs on the eyelid oil glands.
- Carbuncles. This is an infection that is larger than an abscess and has several skin openings.
- Impetigo. This is a skin infection that is characterized by pus-filled blisters.
- Rash. This is characterized by reddening of the skin in some parts.
When to Worry
Most symptoms occur early in MRSA. A common problem with MRSA is that the infection can spread to other organs of the body, which leads to development of even more severe symptoms. It is possible for MRSA to spread to internal organs which becomes a life threatening case. Low blood pressure, fever, chills, severe headaches, joint pains and shortness of breathes are symptoms of MRSA that must be addresses immediately. This is more so when the symptoms are characterized by skin infections. Some MRSA infections can spread to ears, lungs or sinuses. Most CA-MRSA and HA-MRSA infections are severe and can lead to complications like sepsis, endocarditis, osteomyelitis, necrotizing fasciitis as well as death.
How to Prevent the Spread of MRSA
- Keep your hands clean by ensuring you wash them thoroughly with soap and running water. Also, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is advisable.
- Take showers immediately you get back from a group exercise.
- Keep abrasions, cuts and scrapes clean. Cover them with a clean and dry bandage until completely healed.
- Avoid coming into contact with other people’s bandages and wounds.
- Avoid the sharing of personal items, especially those that come into contact with the skin.
- Place a barrier between the skin and shared equipment. Also, wipe surfaces before use and after use.
- A pregnant woman should consult with her doctors if they are carriers or MRSA or are infected by it. Even though infants cannot be infected through breast milk, there have been instances where the infants got infected with MRSA from their mothers. Pregnant MRSA patients have in the past been successfully treated using mupirocin cream antibiotic.
FAQs About MRSA Transmission
- Can one get a MRSA infection from contaminated water?
Human beings are the primary carriers of the MRSA bacteria. It is, therefore, unlikely that one can acquire the infections from exposure to water. Even so, the findings on this possibility are still inconclusive.
- Can you acquire MRSA from eating MRSA contaminated meat?
Thorough cooking of meat before eating is known to kill the MRSA bacteria. So far, no cases of MRSA have been reported to have occurred from eating contaminated meat.
- Can MRSA be contaminated through the air?
Yes, it is possible to acquire MRSA through the air. These bacteria can pass through the air from those infected. This is why healthcare surfaces like railings, counter tops and tables are mostly found infected with the MRSA bacteria. However, the risk of contamination occurs when you are around infected people. Also, the risk of getting the infections through air increases when you are in hospitals, nursing homes as well as other healthcare facilities.
- How long can a person infected remain infected?
A person infected with MRSA can remain infected for less than ten days if they see a doctor. Even so, there are other factors that can determine how long the infection lasts. Thus, the duration of the infection can vary in different people.
- What household cleaning agents should I use to clean surfaces contaminated with MRSA?
Any household cleaning agent with bleach or quaternary ammonia compounds can kill MRSA bacteria. However, studies are yet to be conducted on the best way to apply these agents.
You can watch this educational video on MRSA. It will help in knowing the facts from the myths:
How Is MRSA Treated?
"How is MRSA treated" should target the question "what causes MRSA" and "how is MRSA spread" to get rid of MRSA symptoms and roots.
Treatment for MRSA skin infections can include the draining of the infection as well as the prescription of antibiotics in some cases. The draining of the infections should only be done by a health provider as attempting to do it yourself can lead to a spread or worsening of the infection. Ensure you complete the antibiotics doses, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.