MRSA infection causes in excess of 250,000 hospital visits in the USA alone every year. MRSA is a drug resistant version of the staph aureus (SA) bacteria.
How do people catch MRSA?
There are several ways it is believed to spread.
This is why hospital hand hygiene is key - but when MRSA enters a family, hand hygiene also becomes vital. The hand can carry the bacteria from an infected wound, a contaminated surface or from one persons skin to another. Staff should wash their hands after every patient and families with an MRSA infected member should wash their hands several times a day.
Clean hospital wards are vital. Take for instance the bedside table. A previous patient with MRSA may have 'shed' the bacteria in the area around the bed. Patients may shed bacteria when visiting the toilet. Staff can move bacteria via their hands to a computer keyboard. Another nurse/staff member can pick it up their and move it to a patients skin. Regular, thorough cleaning can help kill bacteria on surfaces and reduce the risk for all.
Special antibiotic coatings or silver coatings help kill bacteria on medical instruments. Medical instruments pose two problems in general. They create a surface wound which can be a pathway for bacteria to enter the body and blood stream. If not adequately cleaned they may also carry infection deep into the body. An increasing number come with special antibiotic coatings or have surfaces that incorporate silver. Silver has natural antibiotic qualities and will kill the bacteria.
MRSA can spread from the nose with colds and flu. MRSA is also thought to become part of the dust that will form in any room if it has been sneezed out or shed from the skin. Any measure that protects people from flu will help prevent the spread of MRSA. Hospitals periodically deep clean wards using air purification and ultraviolet light technologies to kill the bacteria that may be on surfaces or circulating within the air movements found in the room. Regular cleaning of air circulation equipment such as fans is vital to prevent bacteria polluted air in the sensitive environment of a hospital ward.
Needles - Injecting drug users or tattoo artists may be passing on MRSA
Sexual Intimacy - the nose, groin and underarms are key hiding places for MRSA
Shared items - Families or military personnel, sports teams or prison inmates may share hygiene items such as towels etc and infect each other.