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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Residents by wary of staph germ

Monday, July 2, 2007

According to a comprehensive study recently released, a dangerous, drug-resistant staph germ may be infecting as many as 5 percent of hospital and nursing home patients

The study, conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, showed that at least 30,000 U.S. hospital patients may have the superbug at any given time, about 10 times the rate that some health officials had previously estimated.

"Staph infections are prevalent in every community," Clay County Health Department Public Health Nurse Jennifer Freese said. "There have been reports of the super bug here in Clay County, but none of the cases have been confirmed."

The superbug known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), cannot be tamed by certain common antibiotics. It is associated with skin infections, but it also causes more serious conditions such as blood infections, pneumonia and other illnesses.

MRSA is a potentially fatal germ which is spread by touch, and typically thrives in health care settings where people have open wounds. But in recent years, "community-associated" outbreaks have occurred among prisoners, children and athletes, with the germ spreading through skin contact or shared items such as towels.

"Anyone can get a staph infection," Freese said.

"It can come through using the same towel to dry your hands following someone else who has an open sore, even as small as a paper cut."

Past studies have looked at how common the superbug is in specific patient groups, such as emergency-room patients with skin infections in 11 U.S. cities, dialysis patients or those admitted to intensive care units in a sample of a few hundred teaching hospitals.

The new study was different in that it sampled a larger and more diverse set of health care facilities; 1,237 hospitals and nursing homes, or roughly 21 percent of U.S. inpatient health care facilities.

Researchers concluded that at least 46 out of every 1,000 patients had the bug.

In the breakdown, 34 per 1,000 were infected with the superbug, meaning they had skin or blood infections or some other clinical symptom, while the other 12 per 1,000 were "colonized," meaning they had the bug but no illness.

"Typically, staph infections begin small, such as a spider bite or a boil," Freese said. "If the area becomes infected and won't go away, a culture can be taken to tell if a staph infection or MRSA has developed."

Simple, common sense measures can be taken to prevent the development of a staph infection, such as washing hands regularly and keeping open sores clean, dry and bandaged.

Preventative steps can also be taken in public, where there is a possibility of accidentally rubbing against someone who also has an open sore.

"Carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer to use in places where bacteria can be spread by the smallest touch, such as in grocery stores, where many people touch the same items, can help prevent the spread of a staph germ or MRSA," Freese said. "Good hygiene is the best line of defense."

For more information on staph infections and MRSA, visit the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) web site at www.cdc.gov.

What is a staph infection?

Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as "staph," are bacteria healthy people can carry on the skin or in the nose.

Staph bacteria commonly cause skin infections, most of which are minor, appearing as pimples and boils, and are treated without antibiotics.

Some staph bacteria can cause more serious conditions such as infections in the blood, bones and lungs (pneumonia).

Most of the more serious staph bacteria infections are treated with an antibiotic related to penicillin.

However, during the past 50 years, some staph bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, including the commonly used penicillin-related antibiotics. These resistant bacteria are called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

Good hygiene helps prevent staph and MRSA skin infections:

* Keep hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water,

* Keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered with a proper dressing (bandage) until healed, and

* Avoid contact with other people's wounds or material contaminated from wounds.

For more information on staph infections and MRSA, visit the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) web site at www.cdc.gov.

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