Bacterial Infections from the Gym

  • code_joe

    Posts: 107

    Aug 21, 2007 2:08 PM GMT
    Last year I spent 4 months fighting an infection that I got from I'm guessing the steam room at my Gym. It turned out to be MRSA (a Staph Infection resistant to alot of antibiotics) It left me with several scars.

    I thought it was a rare occurance until this past sunday when I met with some of my boyfriend's friends and one of them was telling us how he had too gotten a staph infection from the gym.

    I was wondering how many people on here have had this trouble?

    Now a days I stay out of the steam rooms, use antibacterial soap, and wear my trusty Crocs around.
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    Aug 21, 2007 4:20 PM GMT
    this problem has been occurring in New York for a while. A friend of mine got it last year as well. He said it was from a scrape from some of the gym equipment. Granted, this is the S**thole that is NYSC. Ever since, I've worn long pants and lifting gloves to minimize my contact with the equipment.

    Not sure about the steam rooms and all that - I never use them. But yes, it is going around and is very serious. Makes you wish everyone would clean the machines after they are done.
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    Aug 21, 2007 4:30 PM GMT
    Lots of organisms can spread easily in warm moist environments with lots of bodies - like a gym or hospital. The antibiotic-resistant strains seem to proliferate in these places.

    But the Staphylococcus bacteria are always on your skin to begin with. (In fact, they are adapted to live in very dry salty environments - like your skin.) The infections aren't a result of exposure - you already have them - but of untreated or unwashed abrasions and cuts. "Toughing out" those little bumps and scrapes is macho, but not a good idea.

    Secondary effects can help these infections get started too. Things like stress or poor nutrition that can suppress the immune response. Though it's rare, they also go bananas in high-oxygen environments. The real reason that the Apollo astronauts stayed in isolation for a week after their missions (the "quarantine" was a farce) was that because of the 100% oxygen atmosphere in the capsule, they had awful staph infections all over their faces, where their headsets abraded the skin.

    BTW: Wearing sandals in the showers will not keep microbes off your feet. At the scale of a microbial cell, the surface tension in the water films exerts a force far stronger than gravity. They will wick right up your legs. Just get clean and stay dry.
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    Aug 21, 2007 4:33 PM GMT
    We have a mild epidemic going on in our hospital... Most patients who are colonized by MRSA do not have any symptons, that is how they spread so easily. It is not only after we do a nostril swap that we know thay have this pathogen and if it is in your nostrils, youare colonized with it It usually does not manifest itself until the patient goes to have some invasive procedure (like surgery)..then it becomes a big problem... Many of them have chronic septic joint infections...

    MRSA is easily killed by alcohol or washing with soap and hot water.

    If the contact surface is wiped with alcohol pads/wipes throughly, it should be ok...
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    Aug 21, 2007 9:34 PM GMT
    typical MRSA surveillance screen: nostril, rectal, any open wound, ie surgical or an open wound caused by whatever-pvd

    some wounded, injured soldiers come back from Iraq and afghanistan isolated with a unique strain of MRSA

    I wanted to ask you code_joe-we're you on IV antibiotics-Vancomycin or meropenem

    if so how long (ie the entire 4 months)?
    be well code.
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    Aug 21, 2007 9:40 PM GMT
    Hmm... "nostril swap." Sounds kinky.
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    Aug 21, 2007 9:58 PM GMT
    What, you've never given a guy nostril?
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    Aug 22, 2007 2:30 AM GMT
    I actually treat soldiers taht came back from the Middle East as I work for the VA... I was not aware that there was a unique strain of MRSA. Something to inquire ID...
  • code_joe

    Posts: 107

    Aug 22, 2007 3:56 AM GMT
    I didn't end up getting on any IV's. That was the next step. My doctor didn't have much experienc with MRSA and as a result I was put on a total of 5 oral antibiotics. It wasn't until I went to the hospitals Infectios Disease Clinic that I was finally able to get over it. I will have to check and see which one it was in the end that i was taking. They all sort of blur together. I had to take the antibiotics, scrub myself down with surgical soap regularly, and I also had a ointment antibiotic that I put in my nostrils twice a day for 6 months (to make sure it stayed away they told me)
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    Aug 22, 2007 4:52 AM GMT
    NYC - I recently happened upon an article in Reader's Digest regarding MRSA.

    http://www.rd.com/content/methicillin-resistant-staphylococcus-aureus/

    The article seemed to suggest that this strain of Staphylococcus aureus frequents gyms and locker rooms, implying that it is not the same strain normally found on our skin. It apparently differs from the anti-biotic resistant strains found in hospitals. Affected patients seemed to fall ill after a minor cut or scratch occurred in a gym-related setting.

    Anyway, after reading about how several youngsters have died or fallen ill because of MRSA, I became much more vigilant about hand-washing while at the gym. Probably a good idea, regardless.
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    Aug 22, 2007 5:38 AM GMT
    Don't read too much into stories about "MRSA strains." A bacterial "strain" is a series of cultures derived from a single isolate. If I cultured one from any patient sample right now, it would be a "new strain." The Staphylocaccae have a couple of dozen different "virulence factors" which are attributes that make them pathogenic.

    They can freely trade the genes for these virulence factors amongst themselves, as well as the genes for antibiotic resistance. It's as if you could have sex with a guy who has great legs or red hair - and it would cause your legs to grow and your hair to turn red.

    So any given strain will have a different combination of these virulence factors. You might pick up a strain from another person that has a different combination of these virulence factors, or your own bacteria might pick up a new gene from one. Then your body might need some time to develop defenses against it. If it gets into an open sore before that happens... oops.
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    Aug 22, 2007 7:03 AM GMT
    MRSA means: methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureas. The name comes from the fact that it is resisant to methicillin and it's family of antibiotics -- the penicillin family, and usually the bacteria are resistant to some degree to all members of the family. Initially the bacteria responded well to penicillin, but over time it has become resistant do to use/overuse of the antibiotics.
    The diagnosis requires a cultures which usually also comes with a sensitivity -- meaning that it comes tested against a number of antibiotics telling you which ones the bacteria is resistant to and which ones it is sensitive to. Some do have multiple resistancies, but rarely are they resistant to everything -- I have never seen them resistant to everything, and well they can trade around genes there is usually a trade off meaning that to acquire a resistence they have to give something else up. The treatment depends on where the infection is: ie. skin, blood, respiratory, etc. Most skin infections are sensitive to the good old oral antibiotic bactrim -- of course it depends on the particular bacteria which is why you need to know what it is sensitive to.
    Anyway yes, it is a problem, and as always good hygiene is important, but it is usually treatable once you have a culture diagnosis and what the bacteria is sensitive to. Also it is found in other places than gyms as I've seen plenty of people who have never been near a gym in their lives who have acquired the bacteria.
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    Aug 22, 2007 10:49 AM GMT
    I have a question...

    Since we treat MRSA patients, following guidlines from ID, in the isolation area and all gowned up... BUT I see these patients sometimes sneak out by themselves and touch everthing there is... I report these to the ID and they come do some cleaning. But the problems is that nursing is so overwhelmed that they cannot possibly stop this from happening...

    Now if some patients who sneaked out, been touching every one or visitors, and then I touch these thigns and visitors.. What are my chances of being colonized by MRSA? I know most of these patients do not have any symptons at all until there is a cut or sugery.. Are there ANY even tiny symptons for me to warrented to get a nostril swap....?
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    Aug 22, 2007 11:45 AM GMT
    The New York Times has been tracking this story for some time and, in fact, ran an article a week or so ago about a new program at a VA hospital:

    http://tinyurl.com/3dc4ly

    Note that the article mentions some European nations have all but eliminated the problem. I don't have the citation, but I read in an earlier op-ed piece that the American Hospital Association had rejected Euro-style protocols to curb the problem because of cost. Meanwhile 99,000 people a year die. Just another example of our "superior" health care.

    I've had two friends almost join the 99,000. One contracted MRSA while hopsitalized for a mastectomy. She was in the hospital for weeks.

    Another friend's boyfriend came home from the hospital with MRSA and my friend apparently got the infection from him. My friend landed in the hospital for two weeks himself. (He is HIV-positive.)

    When I was hospitalized for my knee surgery, I was given a form to sign that said I should tell hospital personnel to wash their hands before touching me. Got that? I'm fucked up on morphine and fentanyl, thinking the urinal bottle in my bed is my cat, and I'm supposed to tell the nurse to wash her hands before she touches me.

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    Aug 23, 2007 3:50 AM GMT
    so in addition to washing your hands before and after workouts, gyms ought to consider germicidal gels(purell) etc and post signs. hmm is there a legal liability here?

    my question to mindgarden is-how does ID or infection control determine patient zero or the origin of the MRSA ie being brought into the hospital?




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    Aug 23, 2007 4:32 AM GMT
    Guys:

    For a slew of information about MRSA in both medical and lay language, visit http://lapublichealth.org/acd/MRSA.htm .

    A considerable amount has been published in the medical literature on community-associated MRSA -- CAMRSA. It is quite distinct from the strains of MRSA that historically were induced in hospitalized and nursing home patients who would receive a lot of antibiotics. CAMRSA is typically sensitive to a number of common antibiotics and it RARELY will need IV antibiotics to cure. In fact, in a large number of cases, NO antibiotic is the best treatment -- wound drainage is all it takes to heal. However, invasive [deep-seated] infection and certainly bloodstream infections can be treated readily with Bactrim/Septra plus rifampin. Please PLEASE do not let your doctor prescribe vancomycin without having run tests for your germ's antibiotic sensitivities. That drug is expensive and has other potential negative impacts on the other germs residing in and on your body.

    WASH YOUR HANDS frequently, keep fingers out of your nose and mouth, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze -- all the things grandma taught you.
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    Aug 23, 2007 5:48 AM GMT
    Not sure that I understand elij's question entirely, but:
    It's possible to track individual bacterial isolates through a variety of technologies. Most of them basically build a "family tree" so that you can ask questions like, for example, which was the earliest ancestor of the group, or which machine in a factory is the source of a contaminated product.

    However, I doubt that anybody actually does that in the real world, unless things are serious enough to get the CDC involved. Most hospitals probably aren't equipped to do that, and wouldn't know what to do with the information, if they were. Then there's the added complication that because of horizontal gene transfer (the bacterial analog of interbreeding) new strains probably arise within the hospital itself.

    Everyone agrees that it's a bad idea, but many doctors still hand out antibiotics without even checking to see if a patient has a bacterial infection. Much less checking to see if the putative bacterium is sensitive to the antibiotic that is prescribed.

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    Aug 23, 2007 11:01 PM GMT
    Oh my God, Obscenewish! That is a horrible story! They are supposed to wash their hands or wear glovs before they touch you!

    You know what? Thinking about it, you are right! The urinal bottle does resemble a cat somewhat... Never thought of that! But you must ahve been having nice opiod dreams....

    And elij..

    How would an attorney prove in court that a person got the MRSA infection from a gym...? The person can potentially already been colonized with it, or become exposed to it after the scratch... To sue a gym you need discreet and directly linking evidence...
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    Aug 24, 2007 12:07 AM GMT
    as far as handwashing is concerned, the compliance rate isn't good-among all healthcare professionals and public coming into the hospital. the germicidal gel came into use. I have no idea about hospitals in Atlanta, but it sounds like one individual didn't have a good experience. That speaks to his hospital and his caregivers: from dr's, nurses, therapists, care aides, janitor's, etc etc. so any letter a person signs is hardly intended/directed at one health caregiver. everyone is required to wash their hands. However he is right, it seems absurd that well he's doped up he's responsible to tell you to wash your four hands.


    my healthcare system is public: one statistic I was given is that 8 to 12 thousand deaths occur each year from nosocomial infections. That to me is just sad. I am aware of one pt that has died as a result of a nosocomial infection on my floor over the past year.

    the people that continue to say dont use vancomycin or meropenem (I agree howver)-the doctor orders the drug, the pharmacist processes and prepares the drug, at that point MRSA treatment starts. It is given initially thru a peripheral line then if after MRSA surveillance dictates a longer course a central line is started so the patient can go home for the remainder of the treatment. This is how my particular hospital addresses the MRSA issue.

    I was expressing a legal quandry because of code_joe's circumstance. I was wondering if a person could sue his gym over this-just thinking out loud.
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    Sep 18, 2007 3:50 PM GMT
    I had that last year also. not sure where i picked it up. It manifested as a boil on neck. There was some discomfort but it wasn't too bad to deal with.

    I had a hard time with the drugs.
    First the doctor put me on some sulfa drugs. I went through most of the course , but near the end I had a bad reaction to the antibiotics, (chest and face bright red, chills, fever) - it was scary. Fortunately I knew what was happening and took some benadryl to alleviate the effects, and I was home from work for few days (i was on the benadryl for 3 days, taking it every 4 hours) it was a blur.

    Next I try some tetracycline, after 3 days, I start to get another reaction. Caught it earlier this time, so it wasn't as severe. But it's frustrating because these skin infections come back.

    Finally i get an antibiotic that works, and the doctor also prescribes a topical antibiotic for my nasal passages. After 2 months, it was gone.

    this is a damn hard bug to fight. Now I always wipe down equipment at the gym before and after I use it