December 2, 2016

Beware the Super Bug that’s All Around Us

This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com

At the office today we heard about a colleague who was admitted to the hospital and won’t be back for a while.  She had a small wound that steadily got worse, leading to an infection, fever and now a hospital stay.  She had to be treated with IV antibiotics, and will need to wear a bag near the wound site to continuously flush the wound with antibiotics for a month.  Her husband who helped change her gauze bandage before they knew what she had, had a small shaving cut, and he caught it as well.  He was not hospitalized, but now has to take strong oral antibiotics.  The couple is in their mid-thirties, and were in good health until this incident.

Beware the Super Bug that's all around us

What Happened to Them?

My colleague contracted MRSA, which stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureos.  MRSA is deemed a “super bug” because it is a type of bacteria that is resistant to most common antibiotics such as Amoxycillin, Penicillin, Oxacillin and Methillin.   Her husband, who helped change her dressing, must have touched the infected bandage, touched his own skin and inadvertently caught it himself.

Judging by the reaction at the office, many people are not aware of MRSA.  So I thought I’d better do some research to spread the word about this highly contagious and potentially deadly (if left untreated) condition.

I found out there are two kinds:

HA- MRSA:  Healthcare Associated MRSA – the kind that is spread in hospitals, long term care facilities, nursing homes or other care centers.  Patients who are affected may have had surgery, or wears a catheter or had some kind of in a health care facility.  Average age of patients who catch HA-MRSA:  68 years old.

CA-MRSA:  Community Associated MRSA – this affects healthy people who have never even gone to the hospital.  Average age of people who contract it:  23 years old.

Of the two types, my understanding is HA-MRSA is more resistant than CA-MRSA but both can turn dangerous nonetheless.

How do you Catch It?

Both types share the following “C’s” to remember:

–         Crowding

–         Cuts

–         Contaminated surfaces or skin

–         Un- Clean surroundings

–         Contact with skin

Who is at Risk of Catching it?

-Diabetics

-Anyone with a compromised or weak immune system

-Young children

-Elderly

-College students in dorms, children in child care centers, or personnel in military installations

-People who go to the beach where waters are known to carry the bacteria such as Florida or West Coast beaches

-Anyone who uses locker rooms or gyms

-Healthcare workers

-Hospital patients or long term care facilities

As you can see, a wide swatch of the population is at risk.  Some medical professionals believe the bacteria can be present anywhere, including our own nostrils.  Usually, nothing happens, but it becomes dangerous when it enters the bloodstream through a cut.

What are the Symptoms?

  •  The injured area becomes red, swollen and painful.  The area may become filled with pus and drainage may occur.
  • Other symptoms include headache, muscle aches, fever, and chest pain.
  • Worsening symptoms may include high fever, chills, difficulty breathing, joint pain, low blood pressure, severe headache and extreme fatigue
  • The infection can enter the bloodstream and cause blood poisoning, other organs getting infected and pneumonia.

See your doctor if you experience these symptoms.  Most of the time oral antibiotics can easily cure the infection.  However, if the infection continues or keeps getting worse even after taking the prescribed antibiotics, call your doctor to report your condition.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family

I don’t want you to become alarmed or paranoid, but just be aware so you can protect yourself and your family with these common sense steps:

  1.  Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.  Also teach children proper hand washing technique.  Hand washing should last long enough to be able to sing “Happy Birthday,” or recite the alphabet.  If unable to wash your hands, wiping with an alcohol bases sanitizer will suffice.
  2. Do not share towels or razors.  You may not do this yourself, but again, teach your kids, as a lot of teenagers in locker rooms may do so.
  3. Treat any cuts, burns or insect bites or puncture wounds, even minor ones, with an antiseptic and cover them with a band-aid.
  4. Avoid touching anyone else’s wounds or use sterile gloves if you are helping dress a wound with gauze or bandage.
  5. Restrict usage of antibiotics, as widespread antibiotic use causes bacteria to become more resistant.
  6. Wipe down any surfaces when using machines at the gym.

In a long-term disaster, the spread of bacteria such as MRSA can only get worse with reduced sanitation and possible lack of medical facilities.  For your emergency supplies, stock up on band-aids, hydrogen peroxide, Bactine, sterile gloves for your First Aid kit.  Don’t forget to stock up on water for washing, soap, and antibacterial cleaners.

Disclaimer:  I am not a healthcare professional; all recommendations are for information purposes only and not to be taken as medical advice.  Do your own research or see your doctor for specifics about MRSA if you are concerned. 

 

© Apartment Prepper 2012

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16 Comments on Beware the Super Bug that’s All Around Us

  1. Seriously important info there… My 45 year old cousin ignored the infection he picked up after foot surgery so he could go on vacation. It turned out to be MRSA and by the time he got to the hospital it had attacked his internal organs and it was too late to save him. He was in very good overall health before hand.

    • Carl, Oh my gosh that is terrible what happened to your cousin! Truly sorry to hear it happened to someone related to you. It’s one of these things you don’t really hear too much about until it happens to someone you know. It can be deadly, if left untreated even for healthy people. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Also stock up on 23ppm silver gel. This can kill MRSA. lugols iodine can as well. I have heard of cases where the silver succeeded when other antibiotics have failed.

    • Dave, Thanks for mentioning silver gel. I had heard good things about silver’s medicinal properties. Good to know it could kill MRSA. Appreciate the comment!

  3. Guys, which silver gel do you have, own, or suggest? I would like to buy some and I’d like to choose a quality brand. I appreciate your assistance.

  4. My husband seems to have contracted MRSA from his daily visits to his grandfather at a hospice. At first, it just seemed to be a common boil. Within 3 days he developed other boils in the same area. The swelling was beyond belief. He went to see a doctor at this point and was put on antibiotics. It took 3 separate dosages of antibiotics before the boils stopped coming and went away. Three weeks later he had another boil and then another. More antibiotics. His doctor had tested for MRSA (which wasn’t automatically done) and put him on antibiotics that worked the first time. They worked again, however, two weeks later, he had another boil. This has been going on now for over a year. He is only symptom free maybe 2-3 weeks at a time.

    I contracted it from caring for him and not understanding what steps I had to take to not catch it. I chose not to use antibiotics at all and began to search for a natural remedy. I cannot tell you how painful MRSA is. I tried a number of things over 4 months until I finally hit on a combination that worked for me and have now been symptom free for 6 months. I scoured the internet and it took a while. I do not make recommendations as I am not a doctor but I encourage anyone who is going through this to do their due diligence. My husband does not believe in home remedies and continues to have symptoms. There is scarring to contend with as well. Anywhere I’ve had a boil there is a scar I have not found a way to fade.

    I share this because I want to let people know to not think that antibiotics will necessarily cure this and it may take a combination of approaches to remain symptom free. It is highly contagious. The use of gloves when handling the affected person as well as any articles of clothing worn by them while they are experiencing symptoms is crucial. There is pus from the boils and blood as well. I found that many of the steps around limiting exposure to scabies were useful for what to do as far as cleaning and laundering.

    I thank the author for his post. We didn’t have a clue that MRSA even existed until my husband came down with it and this is something the general public needs to be aware of as it is more prevalent than you might think.

    • Sara, Thanks for taking the time to share your story. This is sounding more and more dangerous as we hear personal stories from affected people. I am incredulous there isn’t more coverage about this in the media. Considering it is so contagious, people should become aware of it so they can take precautions. I am glad you are on the mend and hope your husband will soon be as well. Appreciate your comment.

  5. If I had been aware of the possibility that it was MRSA (or even know what it was) when my husband developed the first boil I would have looked into it and taken the proper precautions. Once I knew, I was terrified I would infect someone else. I managed to keep my daughters from getting it so it is entirely possible to live with someone who has it and not catch it yourself. I happen to have a very high threshold for pain. For me, the pain was so great I cried more than once. I shudder whenever I see someone reporting a child has gotten it. In my husband’s experience antibiotics did not cure it. It took care of the current symptoms but did not prevent future attacks.
    Given his experience, I do not believe I am cured even though I have been symptom free for a while. I continue to actively manage MRSA even if symptom free as a preventative measure. Not taking antibiotics was a choice I made but I cannot responsibly recommend that course of action to anyone else. Do see a doctor, make sure you get a diagnosis and institute a quarantine of sorts around the affected person. My husband gets clusters of boils. I “only” got one at a time. Just one at a time and the pain knocked me on my butt. It did not present the same way for us. SEE A DOCTOR. MRSA is life-threatening as another poster shared. People have died and continue to die from MRSA. At the very least, it will seriously affect your quality of life and continuing health.
    What I’ve learned is that MRSA requires stringent efforts around preventing others in your household from getting it, it is recurring, and it scars you.
    I was fortunate to not have gotten any boils in plainly visible places on my body. I am continuing to work on them to see if there might be a way to fade them but so far, I’ve had very little improvement. So, preventing an attack has become critical to me as I know any boils I develop will leave what seem to be permanent scars.
    Thanks again.

  6. My father contacted MARSA while in the hospital. The doctor told him that most people that contact MARSA die, he said it was all in Gods hands. They have released my dad from the hospital, however he has a pic line in his upper arm where he takes antibotics twice daily. A nurse comes to his home twice a week to make sure he has all the supplies he needs, and to check the pic line to assure it is still working. This has been going on since June of last year. He has no quality of life. Everything is worked around his daily antibotics. He is in terrible pain. This is a very serious infection. Everyone should learn as much as possible about current hospital issues. I was told hospitals are the most dangerouse places for healthy people to be. The hospital ran out of medication on more than one occasion. Both pain meds and antibotics were in short supply. Some hospitals have a pharmacy mix up meds due to the shortages. Research medicines shortages at hospitals, and MARSA. There are many other infections that patients can contact and pass on to family and friends. Also know that hospitals do not like to diagnose these infections because they have to report them, that means they will do everything in their power to list these hospital contacted infections as other health issues. Any time you must visit someone in the hospital wash your hands before touching anything, and again before you leave.

    • LilBKP, Sorry to hear about your father contracting MRSA from the hospital. Unfortunately, this is not well reported as you said. Hospitals do not like to share this info, these hospital spread infectious diseases count against their ratings. My coworker also had to go home with a pic line for a week, and she still has to wear the bag that injects antibiotics into the wound for a whole month. This is indeed debilitating. Thanks for sharing– I appreciate the comment.

  7. Here in the UK MRSA has been a problem a long time (there is even some evidence it may have developed here as a consequence of over-prescription of antibiotics for viral illnesses, and from incompleted courses). In some areas it is classed as endemic, with over 60% of the population as carriers (unknowing since it has no effect). So as such the main route of transmission (despite the hype) is community (eg. on a bus, a restaurant, or from family members, etc.). The hospitals have a developed a bad name mainly because they are the places that the infection is first diagnosed, and since it was asymptomatic beforehand they take the blame (similar occurs with Clostridium Difficile infections with relatives and visitors demonstrably being the initial sources).

    Staphylococcus Aureus is one of the normal fauna and flora found on everyones skin. It has little, if any effect, on wound healing in a generally healthy individual (the bodies normal immune response can deal with it quite satisfactorily). The resistant strains (MRSA and VRSA, found mainly in Japan) are no different.

    The problems arise when the person is either generally in poor condition, due to severe illness, immune suppression, etc. Remember it is no more virulent than any other bacteria, think of all the scratches and wounds you have had that didn’t need antibiotics, these would react the same if the strain was resistant. In situations of immune-compromise, surgery and general debilitation the effects can be drastic however. In such cases there are recognised protocols using the few antibiotics still effective against the strains.

    Surprisingly the best treatment is to eradicate the strain whilst still healthy. There are medicated washes, nasal and oral treatments available. I have no idea how the situation is there but a simple lab-test can confirm infection. If you are due surgery (especially orthopaedic), have a relative who is immune-compromised or generally unwell perhaps an eradication programme may prevent their suffering the consequences of your inadvertent transmission of the strain to them?

    To quote ‘The Hitch-Hikers guide to The Universe’ – “Don’t panic”, it isn’t as bad as some would paint it to be.

    • Able, The risk is definitely higher for patients whose immune system was compromised to begin with. My co-working and her husband however are otherwise healthy, young and did not have any previous issues with their systems. It wouldn’t hurt to be prudent when dealing with wounds, but certainly it is nothing to panic about. Thanks for sharing information about this issue.

      • I absolutely agree!

        I work daily with multiple patients all of whom, since I work in A&E and Medical Admissions, are still awaiting lab results. Just as a prudent person treats every gun as loaded I treat each and every contact as a possible disease vector. I , as all are supposed to, wash and change gown and gloves between each patient contact and even go so far to have a personal supply of Hibiscrub (alternating with betadine aqueous to prevent resistance developing) for washing after each shift. Why? Prudence, to ensure that I do not spread it to a person who is vulnerable or to my family (and myself I suppose).

        As in all things knowledge is the first prerequisite so I applaud your balanced and informative article. I hope family and friends that you, Sara and LilBKP have mentioned recover soon!

        I’ll just go back to lurking again 🙂

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