If MRSA outbreaks in hospitals, locker rooms and prisons weren’t terrifying enough, how about in our communities? It seems as though Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been becoming a bit more mainstream as seen in the case of 39 year old, Eric Allen. It all started for him when he went to sleep on March 1st with what he thought was a light touch of the flu only to wake up hours later coughing up pieces of his lung tissue.
By this time, just hours later, his organs were beginning to shut down and he fell into a coma. What Allen had wasn’t the flu at all; not even close. Tests showed that Allen had an extremely aggressive case of pneumonia that was caused by the antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as MRSA. The exact strain of MRSA was one that we used to associate primarily with hospitals or other healthcare or group care facilities. The problem however, was that Eric Allen hadn’t been to a hospital, care facility or to see a doctor. So just how did he acquire this strain of MRSA and how concerned should the rest of us be?
If the saga that Eric Allen had to undergo was unimaginable, another victim who came in days later with the same symptoms as Allen, died hours after arriving at the hospital. A third victim, a 28 year old woman, was pronounced dead on arrival.
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal who is a pulmonologist and also serves as chair to the infection control committee at St. Joseph-London hospital where these patients were treated is most concerned about how quickly the patients deteriorated. In all the cases, the patients thought they had a common ailment until all the sudden, it was too late to treat. He noted that the patients seemed to deteriorate within hours of their arrival or at least within hours of the time they first thought that maybe they needed to see a doctor. His fear, and the rational fear was that they were dealing with something that had the sort of power that can tear through a community.
That is likely the sticking point that makes these cases of MRSA or MRSA outbreaks the most unsettling. They are attacking otherwise healthy victims who may never have been in an environment where the bacteria is most common. The fact that there is no longer a necessary “type” for this highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria makes efforts to isolate it all the more difficult.
Furthermore, these unrelated cases aren’t necessarily reflected in statistics, so numbers can be deceiving. An examination completed by USA Today found that MRSA infections are much more common that the statistics provided by the government would suggest. This is especially true with cases outside of medical facilities and hospitals. For example, in 2011, the CDC indicated that there were 80,500 cases of MRSA, but 80,500 represents only 20% of hospital billing’s diagnosis of MRSA.
The reality is that MRSA outbreaks or infections affect hundreds of thousands of people each year. It’s not just soldiers, NFL players, school kids and inmates. It’s affecting average everyday people who had no predisposition to the MRSA bacteria.
Some cases are minor such as skin boils and can be treated effectively when caught in time. Others are so mild that they clear up on their own. Then there are others like Eric Allen who live everyday with a slow and often painful healing with the grim reality that the bacteria will always be in his body and may even, terrifyingly, return one day. There are many others who have succumbed to the infection by way of a deadly infection like pneumonia.
The best defense is to be educated and to take certain safety precautions to greatly limit your chances of contracting MRSA. The following are some helpful tips to help you do just that:
– Wash your hands frequently and always use soap
– Never share personal items with anyone, no matter who they are
– Always keep your personal items or sports equipment clean, dry and disinfected by using Clear Gear Disinfectant Sports Spray regularly
– Shower everyday, especially after a workout or sweating
– Never eat or drink anything until you have washed your hands
– Never touch another person’s injuries or open wounds
– Use common sense when coming into contact with anyone who is infected with MRSA and always avoid physical contact