By Brook Bowden

Special to The North Jefferson News




Staphylococcus aureus or “Staph” is a bacteria which normally lives on your skin and in your nose. It usually doesn’t cause problems.

However, “Staph” has been identified as the most common cause of skin infections in the United States. It is most commonly caused by direct skin-to-skin contact. Most of the infections are minor (such as pimples and boils) and can be treated without antibiotics.

“Staph” can lead to other serious infections. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staphylococcus or “Staph” bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics.

MRSA infections are more difficult to treat than ordinary Staph infections. This is because the strains of Staph that are known as MRSA do not respond well to many types of antibiotics — the types of medicines that are normally used to kill bacteria.

When methicillin and other common antibiotic medicines do not kill the bacteria that are causing an infection, it becomes harder to get rid of the infection. MRSA bacteria are more likely to develop when antibiotics are used too often or are not used correctly.

Given enough time, bacteria can outsmart antibiotics so that these medicines no longer work well. This is why MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria are sometimes called “super bugs.”

MRSA used to be acquired only in the hospital or in people who had chronic illnesses. However, MRSA is becoming more common in healthy people in the local community. These infections can occur among people who are likely to have cuts or wounds and who have close contact with one another, such as members of sports teams.

This type of MRSA is called community-based methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). MRSA is a serious condition that if left untreated can take your life. The estimated number of people developing a serious MRSA infection (i.e., invasive) in 2005 was about 94,360; this is higher than estimates using other methods.



Prevention and treatment

Wash your hands often, especially when you’re exposed to someone with an infection or when you touch objects that may be contaminated.

• Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.

• Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, sports equipment, razors, etc.

• Don’t insist on antibiotics for colds or other viruses.

• If prescribed antibiotics, take all the pills, even if you feel better before they are all gone. If you notice anything unusual about a wound, you may want to contact your doctor.



Symptoms

• Redness at the wound site

• Warmth at the wound site

• Pus coming from the wound

• A wound that does not heal

• Fever

• Pain at the wound site

Remember to pay attention to your wound. If left untreated, there could be serious consequences.

These consequences include infections in the bloodstream, bones, bladder and then possibly even death.

To prevent this from happening, follow your healthcare provider’s directions while you have the infection and follow the prevention steps after the infection is gone.

Brook Bowden is a PharmD candidate at The Pharmacy in Mt. Olive. The Pharmacy can be reached at 631-1201.

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