July 17, 2006 – Time Magazine calls MRSA a "nasty, drug-resistant staph infection" that is "racing across the United States." However, Juan F. Luis Hospital Medical Director Dr. Kendall Griffith, a cardiologist, assures that the territory can easily stay safe from the infection that is being mistaken for a serious crisis.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA might have stirred up some worry within the community after residents heard about others who had encountered the infection. One resident of St. Croix saw signs of the infection – skin rashes and boils – days after escorting a relative into the Luis Hospital in April.
While he is not sure where he got it from, the infection has been associated with hospitals since it was defined in 1959. Griffith says that the infection is a community acquired disease and can be transferred from person to person in a grocery store, gym, playground or anywhere where people are sharing and touching numerous items.
"It is not an air traveling disease; people contract MRSA through contact."
"Athletics get staph infections all the time, and you will also see a rise in staph infections among the drug users," Griffith says, "but staph bacteria can colonize and remain unknown on the skin and in the nose of normal, healthy people at no risk to them."
Staphylococcus aureus, also known as S. aureus but commonly goes by the name of just staph, is a bacterium that lives on the skin or in the nose of most people. According to Griffith, the staph bacteria protect the body from other more dangerous bacteria.
Staph bacterium turns into a staph infection when it enters the body, under the skin, through a cut or bruise and negatively reacts with other bacteria in the body. These infections can cause pimples and abscesses and if neglected can turn into a life-threatening diseases, such as MSRA.
MRSA has spread rapidly through California, Texas, Illinois and Alaska. It obtained its name by being a staph infection that developed resistance to the antibiotic methicillin, and this is where Griffith says the problem will continue.
Griffith says that people who know they have staph bacteria often choose to get treated with antibiotics when they don't need to. In turn the staph bacteria become resistant to the drug being used, and when a staph infection occurs and cannot be healed, more serious precautions must be met.
He warns everyone that the safest approach would be to avoid being bruised and cut, but since accidents happen, simple topical antibiotics like Neosporin will work just fine in healing small wounds.
"If a week has passed and you've noticed that the condition of your wound has worsened or is developing puss, then maybe you should consult a doctor and request to be tested for staph infection."
Griffith advises the community to "avoid getting bumps and scrapes on your body and wash your hands regularly." He suggests that people use hand sanitizers and not get in the habit of sharing towels or clothes that haven't been thoroughly washed. He strongly suggests that people do not use antibiotics for simple cuts and bruises because it may cause an unexpected counter effect. He finally says to wear gloves when working outside.
Griffith says that everyone is capable of protecting himself if he just uses a little bit of common sense.
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