Fight­ing MRSA Area heath ex­perts urge clean­li­ness as the key pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sure

The Covington News - - MEDICAL UPDATE - By Tyler Smith

With five cases of Me­thi­cillin- re­sis­tant Sta­phy­lo­coc­cus au­reus ( MRSA) re­ported in the New­ton County School Sys­tem in the past month, lo­cal med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als are sternly preach­ing clean­li­ness as a pre­cau­tion.

Amanda Fitzger­ald, the in­fec­tion con­trol nurse at New­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter, said there is very sim­ple way to pro­tect against the bac­te­ria that causes MRSA.

“ Hand wash­ing, hand wash­ing, hand wash­ing and then even more hand wash­ing,” Fitzger­ald said.

Far too of­ten, she said, peo­ple sub­sti­tute al­co­hol­based dis­in­fec­tants for good old fash­ioned hand wash­ing. While al­co­hol­based dis­in­fec­tants can kill some germs, they do not kill the bac­te­ria that spreads MRSA.

“ Us­ing al­co­hol based dis­in­fec­tant is fine with wash­ing your hands with soap, wa­ter and a pa­per towel,” Fitzger­ald said.

Peo­ple should al­ways wash their hands be­fore and af­ter meals, trips to the re­stroom and if their hands are vis­i­bly soiled.

MRSA is par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous be­cause, as a mu­tated strain of staph, the in­fec­tion is re­sis­tant to many ba­sic an­tibi­otics.

“ We as a so­ci­ety have used so many an­tibi­otics over the years that cer­tain strains of the in­fec­tion have be­come re­sis­tant,” Fitzger­ald said. “ We have to treat it with very strong medicines. We hate to use them when we don’t need them.”

The in­fec­tion was first seen in Europe dur­ing the 1960s, but did not reach the United States un­til the 1970s — and even then cases of MRSA were pre­dom­i­nantly re­ported in only jails, nurs­ing homes and hos­pi­tals.

“ It did not be­come a com­mu­nity is­sue un­til the late 1990s,” Fitzger­ald said.

Peo­ple are ex­posed ev­ery­day to bac­te­ria and it is spread most of­ten by skinto- skin con­tact

“ Staph is all over our skin all the time,” Fitzger­ald said. “ But it will not bother you un­til you have a break in skin. If you have any kind of wound, cover it up. Then when you have to change the gauze, throw it away and wash your hands be­fore you put a new ban­dage on.”

If a wound is in­fected with MRSA, the pa­tient will no­tice a raised red mark or red rash which can be ac­com­pa­nied by a fever and gooey dis­charge. The area of the in­fec­tion will usu­ally also be ten­der. Fitzger­ald said any­one who might have MRSA should con­sult a doc­tor.

If MRSA goes un­treated, the in­fected per­son could have to spend days in the hospi­tal re­ceiv­ing strong an­tibi­otics through an IV. In a se­vere and un­treated case of MRSA, the in­fec­tion can reach a per­son’s blood or bones and could cause death, al­though Fitzger­ald said that was rare.

“ Pre­ven­tion is the ticket,” Fitzger­ald said. “And that has to in­clude not only your­self, but also your fam­ily as well.”

Along with reg­u­lar hand wash­ing, Fitzger­ald sug­gests that peo­ple do not share bath tow­els, wash clothes, tooth brushes, makeup, bed sheets or clothes.

“ Good old fash­ioned hot show­ers can also help a lot,” Fitzger­ald said.

Fitzger­ald also rec­om­mends that women pay at­ten­tion when treat­ing them­selves to a day at the nail salon. The space be­tween an ar­ti­fi­cial nail and per­son’s real nail is a breed­ing ground for bac­te­ria. Fitzger­ald also warns women should not shave their legs be­fore re­ceiv­ing a pedi­cure be­cause even a small cut is enough to let an in­fec­tion in.

“ Just go with hairy legs,” Fitzger­ald said.

icn you your home wuh u, through Auto-Ow­nen

I Coropany. well taw you in­oncy Sta.iuc. thow 2119 Pace Street • Cov­ing­ton, Ge­or­gia 30014

(770) 786-0405 www.pied­mon­

Your best bet: Ex­perts urge stay­ing clean is one of the main ways you can cut down on the risk of con­tract­ing Me­thi­cillin- re­sis­tant Sta­phy­lo­coc­cus au­reus.

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