Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that is resistant to many of the strongest antibiotics. Popular thought has limited the bacteria’s presence to hospitals and nursing homes – however, a new study of 161 New York City residents who contracted the MRSA infections finds that these people’s homes were “major reservoirs” for the bacteria strains, HealthDay reports.
Most MRSA strains are skin infections that are spread by physical contact, such as the sharing of towels or razors; touching a doorknob or barbell. Athletes, military barracks, prisons and other living areas where people are close-quartered are at an increased risk of contracting and spreading the bug.
But the new study shows that the MRSA “reservoirs” have spread into average U.S. homes.
“What our findings show is it’s also endemic in households,” lead researcher Dr. Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, tells HealthDay, from the study published in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences.
The World Health Organization has previously stated that the abuse of antibiotics has become so common that even normal infections may become deadly in the future as these bacterial strains evolve.
“It is not too late,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said to CBSNews.com. “If we’re not careful, the medicine chest will be empty when we go there to look for a lifesaving antibiotic for someone with a deadly infection. If we act now, we can preserve these medications while we continue to work on lifesaving medications.”
Luckily, our favorite doctor, Dr. Radcliff, was able to answer two pressing questions of mine.
Me: Can you get rid of MRSA?
Dr. Radcliff: Once you contract MRSA you’re always considered infected… it’s either active or inactive but it’s always there. It’s the same concept as chicken pox.
Me: That’s crazy. Can it be fatal?
Dr. Radcliff: Not when it’s inactive. When it’s infectious, it’s most dangerous… it can be fatal.
So there, you have it. You can’t get rid of this thing, and it can be fatal when its active (think HSV Simplex). Luckily, Dr. Radcliff specified that this particular staph infection is not airborne. Moreover Dr. Radcliff shared some prevention tips listed below:
▪ Hand-washing—75% of women and 50% of men wash hands after using a public restroom. Most school aged children do not use soap when washing their hands. And only 5% of people wash their hands long enough to kill bacteria. It needs to be done for 20 seconds…..one recommendation is to sing the “happy birthday” song twice. And to minimize touching bathroom doorknobs after.
▪ Hand sanitizer with at least 62% alcohol when soap and water not readily available
▪ Keep wounds covered. With steril, dry bandages until they heal. This will reduce spreading
▪ Keep personal items personal. It’s one thing to share your secrets, but another to share towels, sheets, razors, or clothing.
▪ Shower after athletic games or practices.
▪ Sanitize linens. Hot water, consider adding bleach and dry in a hot dryer. Wash gym and athletic clothes each time after wearing
So there you have it, ladies and gentleman! About 2% of people carry MRSA, so get to hand washing!