Sunday, October 21, 2007

MRSA – Proactive Measures

Among top stories this past week -- MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) -- a bacteria being referred to as a "super bug". Reported in an article by USA Today, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) estimates there are more than 94,000 people infected yearly in the USA and, although rarely tracked, it causes more deaths than HIV and AIDS. I don't know about you, but “bugs” with names like this and references to AIDS, worry me just a bit. Also, the discussions appear to be ongoing as to what guidelines the government intends to implement.

Based on everything I've seen and read this week, there are preventive measures we can take as individuals. It’s reported the bacteria, resistant to antibiotics, can actually be stopped with soap and water. Here are just a few recommendations I believe can be easily followed:

- Soap and water is number one. Hand washing before and after you come into contact with another person or their personal items.

- Using a hand sanitizer when soap and water is unavailable or inconvenient.

- Don't share personal items, such as towels, razors, and nail clippers.

- Use disinfectant on door knobs, light switches, computer keyboards, phones, refrigerator or microwave doors, etc.

- Be assertive in a health care setting. Insist hands are washed or sanitized before they touch you or instruments.

I have a friend in a long-term care facility (coma) whose husband reminds everyone to use the hand sanitizer located at the door of her room. It's now a habit for me and the first thing I do when visiting. I also notice facility staff using it each time they walk in and out of the room.

I don't remember the particulars of a news clip I saw a few weeks ago. However, a hospital was cited as dramatically reducing the number of staph infection cases by simply changing their hand washing/sanitizing guidelines.

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