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What You Can Do to Prevent MRSA and Other Staph Infections
Recent news reports have made us all aware of the danger of drug-resistant staph infections, specifically, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA (pronounced "mer-suh"). Students in several states have been hospitalized with MRSA infections when this opportunistic bacteria entered their bloodstreams through small cuts. Two died after the infection rapidly spread to their internal organs and heart muscle.
MRSA is a "community-acquired" infection and as such is often referred to as CA-MRSA. Hospitals and nursing homes have the highest number of MRSA infections, and MRSA is the source of 10 percent to 20 percent of hospital infections.
A study published in the October 17th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, puts the number of MRSA deaths in 2005 at almost 19,000, making it the cause of more deaths than HIV-AIDs, emphysema, or homicide. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics and casual use of antibacterial cleansers have contributed to the rise of drug resistant strains like MRSA.
Bacteria — beneficial as well as dangerous varieties — are everywhere and are easily spread in places where people congregate. Many people carry dangerous forms of bacteria, but because their immune systems are successful in fending off these germs, they have no symptoms. However, they may spread bacteria — to phones, doorknobs, elevator buttons, grocery store items, and exercise machines.
MRSA is spread primarily by skin-to-skin contact in crowded places and places like health clubs and gym locker-rooms. In the case of MRSA, small cuts can provide a point of entry for the staphylococcus aureus bacterium that can then go on to attack internal organs. When infection occurs in the bodies of people with weakened immune systems, severe infections and even death can result.
Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk:
November 10, 2007
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