MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) infection is a contagious illness that involves Penicillin-resistant strain of the Staphylococcus aureus family. Penicillin is one of the drugs of choice that are effective against Staphylococcus infection. In fact, when Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming, a plate culture of Staphylococcus bacteria was used. Interestingly, about 33% of the world’s human populations have natural floras of Staphylococcus aureus in their bodies, particularly on the skin, mucous membrane, and most especially, inside the nostrils. Fortunately, this colony remains inactive and does not cause any illness. However, this dormancy is disrupted when there is destruction on the protective barriers of the skin and mucous membranes, as well as, having a compromised immunity, after which, symptoms of MRSA infection will start to manifest.
Unfortunately, some strains of Staphylococcus aureus had evolved and developed effective resistance against Penicillin, including its sub-types, such as Methicillin. Methicillin is a strong beta-lactam penicillin antibiotic, which was originally developed to combat some strains of Staphylococcus Aureus which were defiant to conventional Penicillin treatments.
Penicillin monotherapy provides effective antibacterial remedy for Staphs with weaker infectivility. However, much stronger Staph strains are invulnerable to equally potent classes of penicillin, such as Oxacillin and Dicloxacillin. Furthermore, MRSA survives quite well from other powerful antibiotics therapies that use Erythromycin and Tetracycline.
Early symptoms of MRSA infection include a red, bump skin lesion that has a close resemblance to pimples or insect bites, that appears on the wound site, hairy parts of the body such as the armpits, back of the neck, groin, buttocks and in men’s beards. The sebaceous and apocrine glands of the eyelids may also be infected. A condition called Hordeolum or Sty. Skin lesions are also accompanied by skin rashes as well. Aside from superficial clinical manifestations, patients develop fever as well.
When skin condition worsens, these red bumps become larger, more swollen and may rupture, creating a deep skin opening filled with abscess and pus. The skin lesion becomes more painful and feels warm due to inflammation.
Symptoms of MRA infection involving the skin must be taken seriously, as Staphylococcus aureus strain has a strong virulence and rapid communicability especially on immune-compromised patients. Serious complications can occur as a result of soft tissue infections such as Cellulitis, a severe connective tissue inflammation on the skin’s deep layers. Infection may spread to the soft tissues that line the heart valves, a condition called Endocarditis. The skeletal system proved to be vulnerable for Staph bone infection (Osteomylitis). Debilitating, gangrenous and flesh-eating Pyomyositis and Necrotizing fasciitiscan develop and require surgical debridement. For severe cases, amputation is needed. Life-threatening complications such as Necrotizing pneumonia, Bacteremia or Septicemnia and Toxic Shock Syndrome are emergency situations that need immediate medical intervention.
Situations or Conditions That Encourage MRSA Infection
MRSA infection is highly transmittable by direct contact. Bacteria needs a portal entry such as open wounds, indigestion and invasive procedures involving contaminated medical instruments and supplies. MRSA infection can be acquired in the community (CA-MRSA) or during hospital stay (HA-MRSA). There are high incidences of MRSA from both settings.
Major risk factors are: weak immune system or therapies that weaken immunity such as long-term steroidal and chemotherapies, immune-compromising diseases like HIV/AIDS, poor sanitary and hygienic practices such as infrequent hand-washing and sharing of contaminated personal stuffs, as well as poor disinfection practices. Communal public baths such as shower gyms as well as overcrowding are also known places of transmission. Recently, increased cases had been documented on military barracks, among sports team members, neonatal healthcare facilities, in metropolitan areas, as well as from sexual activities involving male homosexuals.
Treatments And Complementary Remedies
CA-MRSA and HA-MRSA infections are treated with potent classes of antibiotics.
For less severe MRSA infection, Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim(Bactrim) or Co-trimoxazole Minocycline, Doxycycline, as well as Clindamycin are given as first-line antibiotic therapies.
For more virulent and highly-infective strains, the primary drug prescribed is Vancomycin. However, current epidemiologic studies had reported the first case of MRSA resistance against Vancomycin in the United States.
The latest antibacterial treatment in cases of Vancomycin resistance is Linezolid(Zyvox), an oxazolidinone-class antibiotic. Other effective options areTigecycline (Tygacil), a glycylcycline antibiotic, Telavancin (Vibativ), a strong MRSA bactericidal lipoglycopeptide, Daptomycin (Cubicin), a lipopeptide antibiotic, as well as,Quinupristin/Dalfopristin (Synercid), a streptogramin-class antibiotic mixture.
For skin infections,apply antibiotic skin creams such as Mupirocin (Bactroban). Antiseptic skin cleansers such as Hibiclens, Hibisol and Hibiscrub can be used for disinfection. Essential oils that are known to have antiseptic properties such as Tea tree oil, and most especially Lemon grass oil are good home remedies against topical Staph infections.
Drainage of abscess is also performed to prevent further contamination and wound sites are frequently covered with sterile dressings.
MRSA is highly infectious. To protect your love ones and yourself from acquiring one, personal hygiene and sanitation must be strictly complied. The best of which, is frequent and thoroughly-done hand-washing. Disinfect hands with antibacterial soups and cleansers. For exposed wounds, clean it with antiseptics, pat dry and cover with sterile dressings.
Segregate contaminated items such as towels, clothing and eating utensils. Never used them or share it with others.
Take measures to strengthen the immune system such as having sufficient sleep and rest and proper nutrition. When undergoing prolonged chemotherapy and steroidal treatments, always discuss with your attending physician, infection prevention methods.
Golden Staph (one of its slang terms) is not complex to manage, especially when clinical manifestations and symptoms of MRSA infection are detected and treated early and promptly. With sufficient knowledge on the nature of this bug, as well as the methods in preventing their transmission, fighting this elusive microbe is quite manageable. However, at the first sign of infection, proper medical advice is necessary as self-medication can trigger further resistance, and can lead to further serious consequences.