STAPH VS MRSA
September 14, 2019
Article by: Karen Wolf, Infection Control Nurse
Have you ever been diagnosed with a “staph skin infection”? STAPH is a term used for the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus…easy to see why the shortened version is commonly used! Staph, in itself, is generally harmless unless it enters the body through a cut or other wound, and even then it usually causes only minor skin problems in healthy people.
A skin staph infection will generally start as a swollen, painful red bump that might resemble a pimple or spider bite, it may feel warm to the touch and become full of pus or other drainage. It is wise to keep an eye on these types of skin problems and if they appear infected or accompanied by a fever, see your health care provider. Treatment may include a prescription for an antibiotic medication. Many common antibiotics are still effective in treating staph infections.
If you have a staph infection, you also need to know about MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). MRSA is commonly referred to by its acronym, or pronounced as “MERSA.” Staph can easily turn into MRSA, and while they are the same species of bacteria, due to decades of overuse or misuse of antibiotics, MRSA is resistant to most common antibiotics, therefore making it more difficult to treat. Left untreated, MRSA can sometimes become life-threatening, affecting bloodstream, lungs, heart, bones and joints.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT GETTING OR SPREADING SKIN STAPH INFECTION?
*WASH YOUR HANDS!! Hand washing remains the best defense against germs.
*KEEP WOUNDS COVERED. Keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered with sterile, dry bandages until they heal.
*SANITIZE LINENS. If you have a cut or a sore, wash linens on the hottest water setting, use bleach if possible, and dry in a hot dryer.
*DON’T INJECT ILLICIT DRUGS. IV drug users are at a higher risk of developing a serious staph infection.
*KEEP PERSONAL ITEMS PERSONAL. MRSA spreads on contaminated objects as well as through direct contact. With back-to-school athletics gearing up, the importance of showering after games and practices with soap and water should be stressed to students, as well as refraining from sharing towels, razors, clothing, and athletic equipment.
*KEEP A WATCHFUL EYE ON SKIN PROBLEMS. If you suspect infection in a cut or a sore, or begin to have a fever, do not try to pop or pick at a sore. Keep the area clean and covered and see your healthcare provider.
As always, the staff and providers at Haskell Memorial Hospital and Clinics are available 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday to address this and any of your healthcare needs.
Resources: CDC General Information –page last reviewed June 26, 2019, Mayo Foundation for Medical education and Research 1998-2019, Staph infection resources.com 2007-2019.