Like many healthy people, you probably have some Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria — usually simply called staph — on your skin or in your nose or throat. Most of the time, the bacteria cause no problems or relatively minor skin infections. But staph infections can become serious if the bacteria burrow deeper into your body.
In addition to Staphylococcus Aureus, bacteria in general are becoming more resistant to common antibiotics. Though most staph infections can still be successfully treated, unnecessary use of antibiotics may lead the bacteria to become resistant to other antibiotics as well.
Practice good hygiene. Hand washing is your number one defense against illness. It is considered the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection. When we forget to wash our hands, or don't wash our hands correctly, we can spread these germs to other people. Hand washing, when done correctly, can help us avoid spreading and receiving germs.
MRSA is a type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics. Staph infections, including MRSA, occur most frequently among persons who have weakened immune systems in hospitals and healthcare facilities, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers.
There are two types of infection. Hospital-associated MRSA happens to people in healthcare settings. Community-associated MRSA happens to people who have close skin-to-skin contact with others, such as athletes involved in football and wrestling.
MRSA infections that occur in otherwise healthy people who have not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis, surgery, catheters) are known as community-associated (CA)-MRSA infections. These infections are usually skin infections that may look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or surgical wound infections.
Factors that have been associated with the spread of (CA)-MRSA skin infections include: close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions, and poor hygiene.
The best way to prevent MRSA skin infections is to practice good hygiene. It’s important to:
Keep hands clean by frequently washing them thoroughly throughout the day with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
Athletes who participate in contact sports can spread MRSA infections via person-to-person contact. Athletes often also share protective equipment and other items that can spread MRSA infections such as clothing, uniforms and towels. The County Health Department has worked with some schools to educate coaches and athletic directors about preventing the spread of these infections in athletic settings. Precautions to take in athletic settings are as follows: