What is MRSA?
More than 130,000 Americans contract a potentially fatal staph infection called MRSA every year. It's increasingly common among young, healthy athletes. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans. MRSA was first discovered in 1961. It's now resistant to methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and many other antibiotics which makes it a very difficult disease to deal with. Staph is one of the most common causes of skin infections in the U.S. Usually, these are minor and don't need special treatment. Less often, staph can cause serious problems like infected wounds or pneumonia.
How is MRSA Spread?
MRSA is especially troublesome in hospitals and nursing homes where patients with open wounds, invasive devices and weakened immune systems are at greater risk of infection than the general public. This is called Hospital Acquired (HA). The other transmission method is called Community Acquired (CA), and one can acquire it from coming in contact with a person, mat, exercise equipment, etc. that has been contaminated.
This disease is contagious by touch only, so you would have to come in contact with someone else or an object that had been contaminated to contract it. MRSA can be transmitted when an infected person contaminates an object like a treadmill at the gym. If you use the equipment and get the bacteria on your hands, then inadvertently touch your nose, the bacteria can enter your nasal canal. The bacteria will begin to show up externally as a skin infection.
Hand Washing and MRSA
At the Society for General Microbiology meeting in Harrogate on March 31, Dr Peter Wilson from University College Hospital, London, reported in Science Daily Mar. 31, 2009 on a year-long study in two hospital intensive care units. Results showed that hand washing was more important than isolation in controlling MRSA infection. This study suggests regular hand washing by hospital staff and visitors did more to prevent the spread of the MRSA superbug than isolating infected patients.1 Researchers have found that patients of doctors who wash their hands are less likely to contract a serious infection that can cause pneumonia or surgical wound complications. According to a new study done by Johns Hopkins Hospital, patients at risk for MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) that had doctors and nurses who washed their hands were less likely to contract the infection.2 Read more about hand hygiene in sports >>
View several MRSA combating products for training rooms, offices, clinics and other athletic facilities >>
For further information see
1. Protecting Athletes- Microbiologists Invent Coating To Protect Athletes From Infection September 1, 2007. http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2007/0905-protecting_athletes.htm
3. The Johns Hopkins Newsletter, 11/5/04 http://media.www.jhunewsletter.com/media/storage/paper932/news/2004/11/05/Science/Hand-Washing.Lessens.Mrsa.Risk-2244064.shtml
Phil Hossler, ATC has been an athletic trainer on the scholastic, collegiate and Olympic levels. He has authored 4 books and numerous articles and served as an officer in state and regional athletic training associations for 20 years. He is a member of four halls of fame including the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s.