Wow! Have any of you been following the news lately? If you have this will sound familiar, a superhuman “superbug” is out to get us! No, I’m not talking alien invasion, but what I am talking about is a bacteria that lives on you. It’s called Staph. If you watch T.V. or surf the net, you’re probably already aware that a staph infection is what killed a 17-year-old high-school student in Virginia this week. In fact, the spread of staph is on the move. Last night my local news stated that staph infections will kill more people this year than AIDS will. That’s a little scary! But wait; I think I know what you’re thinking. And that is we’ve already talked about bacteria before in my Adventures in Grooming article, but let me tell you staph deserves an article all on its own.
O.K., so you’ve got to realize that I’m not just talking about your typical infection. The particular staph infections that have been causing such an uproar are called MRSA. What does that mean? It means methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. And what does that mean? It pretty much translates into a really, really, really bad bacteria that doesn’t respond to antibiotic treatment. It’s such a nasty little bug that it can enter your bloodstream and travel to different organs in your body; and in worst cases, it can become flesh-eating. It almost does sound like an alien invasion!
Most of the time as a medical professional you hear of these MRSA cases from people who have contracted it from a hospital stay or nursing homes. But lately it seems that it’s affecting younger people and they, in turn, are spreading it through the students in their high schools. According to the Associated Press,” In recent years, the resistant germ has become more common in hospitals, and it has been spreading through prisons, gyms, locker rooms, and in poor urban neighborhoods.” I think in my eight years of being a nurse, I’ve known of 2 or 3 people with this type of infection; and all of them lived after extensive treatment, which is good news. However, not everyone is that lucky.
So, the question is, if you had a staph infection, would you be able to recognize it? My guess is probably not. That’s why it’s important to know the signs and symptoms so you can get proper treatment from your health-care provider. The following information is taken from MayoClinc.com and it’s exactly the information you need to help you recognize staph and take action.
Staph infections, including MRSA, generally start as small red bumps that resemble pimples, boils or spider bites. These can quickly turn into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical draining. Sometimes the bacteria remain confined to the skin. But they can also burrow deep into the body, causing potentially life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs.
How do you know if you are at risk for staph or MRSA? Well, here are the risk factors.
- A current or recent hospitalization
- Residing in a long-term care facility
- Invasive devices
- Recent antibiotic use
- Young age
- Participating in contact sports
- Sharing towels or athletic equipment
- Having a weakened immune system
- Living in crowded or unsanitary conditions
- Association with health care workers
And last but not least. Remember prevention is key, so here are some easy tips to prevent staph infection.
- Keep personal items personal
- Keep wounds covered
- Sanitize linens
- Wash your hands
- Get tested
I think the most important information to know about staph is that it could be living on you; on your skin or in your nose. So, please wash your hands. If you don’t follow any of the above advice, at least remember to wash your hands. You could be saving your life and the life of someone else.
As I’ve told you, staph can be a deadly invasion of a powerful “superbug,” so just be smart. Also, if you have any concerns, contact your doctor immediately.