Staphylococcus aureus, or “staph” as it is sometimes called, is a common bacterium found on the skin or in the nose of ~25-30% of humans. Staph aureus is usually harmless, but in certain instances it may cause moderate to severe skin infections. Less commonly, it causes more serious systemic infections: bloodstream, surgical wound and pneumonia requiring hospitalization. One group of staph known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) was first identified in the 1960’s. It is now prevalent in most hospitals. The organisms are resistant to multiple antibiotics (specifically, all antibiotics known as beta lactams, as well as other antibiotic families), and are therefore cause for considerable concern.
Rather than getting into treatment, I want to highlight was that can help PREVENT getting or spreading CA-MRSA.
- Clean your hands frequently with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Keep your linens and clothes clean. Wash sports clothing and washable athletic gear with laundry detergent after each use (not after a week or two of use).
- Do not share personal care items. At home this includes washcloths, towels, and razors. At the gym or school this includes sports towels, sports equipment (helmets, gym mats), uniforms/clothing. Equipment that can't be washed should be cleaned with an antibacterial solution after each use.
- Take care of skin cuts or abrasions before they get infected. Wash them with soap and water, then cover with a dry, sterile bandage daily. Promptly throw away the old bandage. Wash your hands before and after changing the bandages.