Saturday, November 29, 2008

Protect Yourself Against CA-MRSA

What's CA-MRSA? It's just a medical acronym which means Community Associated - Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.
CA-MRSA is usually spread by skin-to-skin contact with infected people (while playing like football or wrestling, for example, as well as giving hugs and handshakes.)
Steps that help you prevent or at least lower your risk are the following:
  • Keep your hands clean. Washing with soap and warm water several times a day is the single best way to combat the virus. Teach your kids to rub their hands briskly under running water for at least 15 seconds (about the amount of time it takes to recite the alphabet.) Take with you an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for times when soap and water aren't available. Kids fingernails should be short and discourage them from doing nose picking.
  • Cover cuts and scrapes. Any wound should be washed with soap and water, then covered with dry, sterile bandages until it heals. Apply a clean dressing daily. Pus from infected sore can contain CA-MRSA, so it's also important to wash your hands after changing bandages to avoid spreading staph.
  • Don't share personal items. Tell your kids not to use friends' and teammates' towels, washcloths, clothing, uniforms or razors. People who appear healthy can still be CA-MRSA carriers. Shared sports equipments, such as helmets and gym mats, should be cleaned with an antibacterial solution after every use.
  • Sanitize gym clothing and linens. If anyone in the family has a cut, sore or infection, wash bedding and towels in hot water with added bleach. Wash sports clothing and washable athletic gear with laundry detergent after each use. Drying laundry in a hot dryer, not on a clothesline, also helps kill bacteria.
  • Remember flu shots. Since flu lowers resistance to CA-MRSA, getting vaccinated every year helps protect against both diseases. The best time to get the shot is in October or November. Flu shots are approved for kids over 6 months of age.
  • Get tested. If you have skin infection that needs medical treatment, ask the doctor to check for CA-MRSA, which responds only to certain antibiotics. Many doctors prescribe the wrong drugs because they don't do a test. That can worsen the infection. Until recently, diagnosis typically involved doing a culture. But it takes up to 48 hours to grow the bacteria in a lab, meaning that people could continue to spread the infection while waiting for lab results.
  • Be sure to take all your prescribed medication - even if your skin heals. Bacteria you leave alive today can morph into tomorrow's superbugs.