MRSA & Swine Flu: The Facts
What is MSRA?
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria — often called "staph." Decades ago, a strain of staph emerged in hospitals that was resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it. Dubbed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), it was one of the first germs to outwit all but the most powerful drugs. MRSA infection can be fatal.
Staph bacteria are normally found on the skin or in the nose of about one-third of the population. If you have staph on your skin or in your nose but aren't sick, you are said to be "colonized" but not infected with MRSA. Healthy people can be colonized with MRSA and have no ill effects, however, they can pass the germ to others. Staph bacteria are generally harmless unless they enter the body through a cut or other wound, and even then they often cause only minor skin problems in healthy people. But in older adults and people who are ill or have weakened immune systems, ordinary staph infections can cause serious illness called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA.
What is CA-MSRA?
In the 1990s, a type of MRSA began showing up in the wider community. Today, that form of staph, known as community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA, is responsible for many serious skin and soft tissue infections and for a serious form of pneumonia.
What is H1N1 (Swine Flu)?
2009 H1N1 (sometimes called “swine flu”) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) signaled that a pandemic of 2009 H1N1 flu was underway.
How Does H1N1 Spread?
Spread of 2009 H1N1 virus is thought to occur in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing by people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something – such as a surface or object – with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose
What has the Rec has done to protect you from CA-MSRA and H1N1?
- Equipment, showers, etc are sanitized as recommended by health professionals.
- More cleaning spray bottles (hospital-grade sanitizer) have been installed throughout the facility.
- Antibiotic hand sanitizers have been installed throughout the facility.
- Spot-testing for CA-MSRA and other germs is being instituted.
- A Zero-tolerance policy on uncovered open sores and wounds has been instituted.
What can you do to prevent CA-MRSA?
Protecting yourself from CA-MRSA — which might be just about anywhere — may seem daunting, but these common-sense precautions can help reduce your risk:
- Keep personal items personal. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, sheets, razors, clothing and athletic equipment. MRSA spreads on contaminated objects as well as through direct contact.
- Keep wounds covered. Keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered with sterile, dry bandages until they heal. The pus from infected sores often contains MRSA, and keeping wounds covered will help keep the bacteria from spreading.
- Sanitize linens. If you have a cut or sore, wash towels and bed linens in hot water with added bleach and dry them in a hot dryer. Wash gym and athletic clothes after each wearing.
- Wash your hands. In or out of the hospital, careful hand washing remains your best defense against germs. Scrub hands briskly for at least 15 seconds, then dry them with a disposable towel and use another towel to turn off the faucet. Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer containing at least 62 percent alcohol for times when you don't have access to soap and water.
- Get tested. If you have a skin infection that requires treatment, ask your doctor if you should be tested for MRSA. Many doctors prescribe drugs that aren't effective against antibiotic-resistant staph, which delays treatment and creates more resistant germs.
- Clean fitness equipment, mats, etc. before and after you use them.
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