Microsoft word - volume 6 issue 3 mrsa.doc

Splurge - Volume 6 Issue 3 (March 2011)
Article by:
Joseph P. Galichia, MD, FACC
Interventional Cardiologist
Galichia Medical Group, PA
316-684-3838 / 800-657-7250
In clinical practice al over the country, physicians have seen an alarming increase in the number of MRSAcases coming into our exam rooms and emergency rooms. The conventional thinking is that certainpopulations are particularly vulnerable to this bacterial infection – those in hospitals, the elderly, youngchildren, or those with lowered immune systems – but it’s increasingly (and disturbingly) common forhealthy adults and children to contract MRSA and its devastating spread throughout the body.
Many people haven’t heard of MRSA, or, methicil in-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, but we alincreasingly should familiarize ourselves with this potential y deadly bacterial infection. Staph infection hasbeen around forever, but MRSA was only detected in 1961, shortly after physicians began to use themethicil in antibiotic to treat staph infections. The MRSA bacterium was initially isolated as particularlyresistant to synthetic penicil in treatment. Even as technologies have progressed, MRSA is stil adangerous and difficult infection to fight.
MRSA is a skin infection, and is usually contracted by direct contact with infected skin, mucus, or theparticulates of an infected person’s cough. However, the bacteria can also spread through touchingtowels, clothing, or other objects in contact with an infected person. At special risk are those with loweredimmune systems, children in daycares and germ-prone environments, hospital patients and workers,diabetics, and the elderly. People with obvious skin breaks (surgical patients, burn victims, those whohave intravenous lines, etc.) or chronic diseases (such as cancer or HIV) need to be especial y cautious ofall potential infectious bacteria in or around their living environments.
Normal skin tissue usually doesn’t al ow MRSA bacteria to develop, however if there are cuts, abrasions,or other skin issues (such as psoriasis), MRSA has an opportune environment to grow. MRSA can easilypass amongst people in close quarters that may share towels, sinks, door handles, etc. This may be onereason for MRSA outbreaks in unlikely (i.e., “healthy”) populations, such as sports teams, dormitories, ormilitary personnel. For prevention’s sake, be sure to wash your hands often, clean linens often, weargloves when cleaning house, and make sure to clean kitchens, laundry facilities, and bathrooms asthoroughly and often as possible.
The major presenting symptom is a rash or small area that looks like a boil, pimple, or sty. Often these
lesions are mistaken for spider bites. Other symptoms include cel ulitis, red, warm and tender to touch,
abscesses, carbuncles (infections larger than abscesses, with several openings to the skin), or impetigo
(skin infection with pus-fil ed blisters). MRSA spreads quickly, and can pervade any major organ system.
Often accompanying these skin lesions are any number of the fol owing symptoms: fever, chil s, joint pain,
low blood pressure, headaches, shortness of breath, and all-over-body rash. Patients presenting these
symptoms need immediate medical attention, especially if accompanied by a skin infection.
Make sure to tel your physician if you or your loved one is experiencing these symptoms. If you go to theemergency room or see a physician about a seemingly unrelated condition, I implore you to tel themabout your skin – for your health and the health of those around you. MRSA screening is typical y done bya nasal swab. The results are back within two hours. If there is an open sore or drainage from a wound,samples can be obtained but results are often delayed by 48 hours or more for a culture to grow. Insevere cases, blood cultures may be obtained as well. First line of treatment for mild abscesses is incisionand drainage, fol owed by antibiotics (possibly Bactrim, Vibramycin, or Cleocin). More severe cases mayrequire hospitalization and IV antibiotics.
MRSA infections can create life-threatening complications including necrotizing fasci tis, endocarditis (aninfection of the lining around the heart), bone infection, pneumonia, or sepsis (blood infection). At worst,MRSA can lead to permanent damage of organ systems or death. I have seen more of these infections incompletely healthy individuals and immediate treatment is necessary to avoid more severe complications.
Ignoring what looks like a bug bite can lead to major problems.
Listen to Dr. Galichia’s Radio Show – “Take Your Health to Heart” every Saturday from 11 AM to Noon on 1480
KQAM in Wichita. If you have any medical y related questions, please cal us during the LIVE broadcast at
1-800-TALK-997 or 1-800-825-5997. You can also e-mail your questions anytime to
[email protected]. We would love to hear from you!!
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