In the 1960’s a new strain of strain staph infection began to evolve. The new staph strain was resistant to common antibiotics that were commonly used to treat other strain. The new stain of staph was named, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or commonly known as MRSA. MRSA is a drug resistant bacterium that causes infection in various parts of the body.
According to Web MD, the symptoms of MRSA depend on what area of the body is infected. Generally infections to the skin are not considered to be serious. However if MRSA enters the blood stream or open wounds (pressure sores) the results can be horrific.
MRSA is spread through physical contact. Telephones or other equipment that are touched by many people can easily spread MRSA to a large number of people rapidly. Nursing homes and other facilities where there are a large number of people in a confined space provide the ideal situation for spreading MRSA. Additionally, MRSA is common in people with weak immune systems. MRSA infections are common in areas such as: surgical wounds, external surgical fixators, feeding tubes and catheters.
A blog post from the Chicago Tribune discussed how wide spread MRSA is in long-term care facilities. The entry cited a study from the Department of Veterans Affairs that estimated 23 – 35% of residents in long term care facilities have MRSA. The blogs author, Judith Graham, made several recommendations to prevent the spread of MRSA in nursing homes. Ms. Graham suggests:
- Wash hands frequently
- Stop the use of catheters when not in use
- Use antibiotics only when necessary
- Keep immunizations up-to-date