MRSA Threat

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    Oct 18, 2007 11:21 AM GMT
    Recent news stories report forecasts that deaths from MRSA may soon exceed those resulting from AIDS. Do you plan to make any changes in your activities, hygiene, possible elective surgery or method of treatment, or choice of hospital to address this blossoming threat to your health?
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    Oct 18, 2007 7:54 PM GMT
    "if looks could kill, they probably will in games without frontiers"

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    Oct 18, 2007 8:10 PM GMT
    Speaking from experience, MSRA is really fucking scary. My dermatologist told me the bacteria was eating my flesh at a very rapid rate. Meanwhile, the infectious disease specialist I saw told me that in the past one could only catch this bacteria in hospitals, however, now it's out in the general public.
    I can't really imagine what steps you could take to prevent getting this. Personally I still believe I caught it from visiting my sister a few times at her old job (Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx). Nevertheless, I also have a hard time understanding how people could let the bacteria get so advanced that it would cause death. When I had the infection lanced the bacteria had gone through most of my dermis & was beginning to eat away my ab muscles. I was in SO MUCH PAIN. I can't imagine anyone letting it get worse than that. I had a giant hole in my torso for weeks! I will say this, if you have a pimple that swells a little too much & hurts a little too much, GET IT CHECKED OUT! Apparently for many it can be fatal...
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    Oct 18, 2007 8:31 PM GMT
    Had it last year. For me it was just a skin infection on neck, but it took me 2 months to fight it. 2 of the antibiotics I tried, I ended up having adverse reactions to (waking up in the middle of the night sweating and a shade of purple is not pleasant). So i needed 2 trips to ER just to deal with the drugs (they were a sulfa drug and tetracycline). Once I got a drug i could tolerate, i was able to get the infection under control. I still have no idea where I picked it up.

    Now, I always wash my hands or wipe them with purell after blowing my nose (MRSA can reside in your nasal passages). I wipe my razor blade with alcohol after I shave. I always spray any gym equipment before AND after use.
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    Oct 18, 2007 8:31 PM GMT
    wipe down after working out with a fresh paper towel each bench/machine and make sure you wash your hands before and after working out.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Oct 18, 2007 8:43 PM GMT
    Well, to put it in perspective, MRSA is currently estimated to kill about 19,000 people in the US each year, while AIDS is around 17,000-18,000. That being said, while the percentage of MRSA infections occurring outside of a hospital setting is increasing, it is still the case that the biggest risk factors for such infections are having open wounds inside a hospital setting, including out-patient procedures like dialysis. A combination of a weakened immune system, an open infection route, and proximity to infected individuals is the major cause of such infections in this country.

    However, MRSA infections, though resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, are still treatable with a number of medications. If you've been infected, your prognosis of dying of something other than the infection is far better than your prognosis of dying of something other than AIDS if you contract HIV.

    These infections really don't change my practices--as a biologist, I'm already good about washing my hands regularly. Just felt I should put some perspective on the death risks.
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    Oct 18, 2007 8:46 PM GMT
    Staphylococcus aureus infections are nothing new. Pretty much everyone has this bacterium present on their skin. The "MS" part of MSRA refers to antibiotic resistance genes that seem to spread in hospitals. But basically, any cut or abrasion, any place, any time has the potential to become infected. Every small wound should be treated immediately, even if it's just washing it or swabbing it with antibacterial solution. (I always let bleeding wounds flow for a minute or two, to flush themselves out. Unless it's a real gusher, I mean.)

    Part of the recent paper from the CDC on MRSA mentioned the ongoing problem of nosocomial infections. Health care workers don't take adequate precautions to avoid spreading bacteria between patients. This too is an age-old problem. Basically, you shouldn't let anybody touch you in those places unless you've seen them wash their hands and/or put on fresh gloves.

    A recent article in Microbe describes some experiments that some university students recently did. They sampled random surfaces around their campuses and found MRSA on 90% of computer keyboards, as well as in most restrooms.

    http://www.asm.org/microbe/index.asp?bid=52087

    Well, obviously, you should take every opportunity to wash your hands, when out in public, right? Another experiment found pathogenic bacteria in 23% of liquid soap dispensers in public restrooms. This isn't too surprising to me, since I always have my students do an experiment testing the antibiotic properties of various cleaners. The foamy "antibacterial" hand soap that's so popular these days has no detectable antibacterial properties at all.
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    Oct 18, 2007 8:52 PM GMT
    Hehehe I just did a small experiment (it was for a low level lab so I didn't put too much care into my methods, so take it with a gigantic grain of salt) on Purell, Dial antibacterial soap, and a bar of soap, and both Purell and bar of soap conditions produced more bacterial growth than control conditions (just washing with water without any soap.) Dial was pretty good though ;) I read some other literature that seems to have found similar things too, (apparently alcohol based products don't kill bacterial spores so the effect of bacterial removal is short lived). It's amazing the things we take for granted cuz TV tells us they work.
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    Oct 18, 2007 9:16 PM GMT
    Four years ago I cut my leg while diving a reef off the coast of Africa, the cut got infected, and I was stupid enough to ignore it for a few days.

    Flew back to the US - basically collapsed into my car, and my driver was smart enough to rush me to the ER.

    According to the doctors I almost died - spent 4 weeks in the hospital (A full weeek in ICU), then went home weak as a kitten and spent 12 more weeks on IV antibiotics four times a day.

    Once you are cultured, you are cultured, I have had two relapses, though none in the past two years.

    Nasty Stuff.

    R
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    Oct 21, 2007 8:52 AM GMT
    MRSA has been hitting the local news a lot in the last few days... so I come here and see this topic tonight... and I'm not liking what I'm learning about MRSA...

    It seems, according to at least one local newscast, that new cases of non-hospital related MRSA infection here in Chicago are on a definite increase. The two cases they focused on were children, the youngest of whom was barely a toddler and died. They did mention, however, that the rate of infection is rising rapidly regardless of age.

    Which brings to mind a concern... Until I get through college and get my BA, I'm still cutting hair for a living. I tend to cut myself at least a couple times a week and I always let it bleed for a minute or two, then clean it up, apply an antibiotic ointment and a bandage. I also wash my hands after every client and follow state sanitation rules. But is there more I should be doing to protect myself or my clients?

    I would assume MRSA could reside on scissor or clipper blades, combs, etc... but do solutions like Barbicide kill it?

    I've googled this, but I'm not finding this info... unless its buried in the middle of some long-winded clinical data somewhere...

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    Oct 21, 2007 4:07 PM GMT
    I always washing my hands when I come home from being out in publis....now for MRSA...but before just cuz I dont want any colds or flus that I can avoid.

    And now I am going to a gym....good lord! It's a cesspool of contagion! (altho they have spray bottles of cleaner everywhere) I wash before I leave that place!!!!

    And with my cancer, I have a compromised immune system

    ....well, just stack the world against me, lord ... icon_lol.gif
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Oct 21, 2007 8:48 PM GMT
    Be smart. Cover cuts, especially at the gym. Wear lifting gloves. Wash your hands befor and after your workouts. Wear clothing that covers the skin that touches gym equipment. Use hand sanitizer in public transportation and in hospitals. I'm not OCD about it, but I haven't had a cold, or sick day in 4 years, except for the year I got the flu shot in '03.

    Not hard to do.
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    Oct 21, 2007 9:16 PM GMT
    mindgardenHealth care workers don't take adequate precautions to avoid spreading bacteria between patients. This too is an age-old problem. Basically, you shouldn't let anybody touch you in those places unless you've seen them wash their hands and/or put on fresh gloves.

    I may have said this before, but when I was in the hospital for emergency knee surgery, they handed me a flier. It said that I should ask every nurse who came in the room if she had washed her hands.

    Hello? I was doped up on morphine, semi-conscious, and I was supposed to make sure the nurses washed their damn hands?

    There was a recent op-ed piece in the Times documenting how European hospitals have virtually eliminated MRSA as a problem. The American Hospital Association won't agree to the same protocols because,they say, they are too costly. Free-enterprise medicine is the best.
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    Oct 21, 2007 9:29 PM GMT
    As far as I can determine, barbicide like most "antibacterial" products is based on a quaternary ammonium salt (colloquially called a "quat".) Staphylococci are normally killed by those. However, there are genes for quat resistance spreading through the Staphylococcus, so dunking tools in this stuff is not a sure thing for eliminating MRSA. You can improve the chances by cleaning off any organic residue before applying the quat solution, and always submersing tools for at least several minutes.

    A better bet might be applying a product containing 70% isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) for more than six minutes, or a combination of treatments. (I mean two separate treatments, not mixing them together!)
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    Oct 22, 2007 12:51 AM GMT
    Thanks mindgarden! icon_biggrin.gif

    We actually keep bottles of 70% isopropyl (and I think also bottles of a higher percentage, too... maybe 90%, but I'd have to go look) in the salon for the manicurists to sanitize their implements... so I'll just have to go snag a bottle of that for my station.

    I'm not surprised that there are quat resistant genes running through Staph... and I wouldn't be surprised to hear of resistant genes running through any number of other organisms... simply because quats have been "standard first line defense" in salons and spas since before I got into the industry, and I've been doing this for 21 years. There has been probably sufficient time for resistance to develop in many organisms.

    Oh... and don't worry... I would never mix quats and isopropyl... icon_wink.gificon_lol.gif

    Which leads me to wonder about the effectiveness of an autoclave on such organisms... especially since we do have one at work. Hmmmm... time to go Google...
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    Oct 22, 2007 1:11 AM GMT
    Autoclaves work just fine. They tend to be a little harsh on things with moving parts, though. For the isopropanol, 70% is the optimal concentration. You need that much water for the cell components to become soluble.
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    Oct 22, 2007 2:00 AM GMT
    Thanks again.

    The Google approach didn't work so well... but I did find lots of interesting info about sterilizing with microwave plasma... icon_lol.gificon_rolleyes.gif

    I also found an interesting document, in PDF, from UNC. Its basically a flow chart for clinical diagnosis of CA-MRSA and treatment options. What I did find interesting, however, is the portion titled "Risk Factors".

    http://www.unc.edu/depts/spice/CA-MRSA-2007-03-05.pdf

    I get the feeling I'm going to be doing a lot of reading on this topic...
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    Nov 02, 2007 12:07 AM GMT
    Thanks to everyone who posted for your informative comments.