Could You Be an MRSA Carrier?
The fact that MRSA bacterium can “colonize” means that each one of us could potentially be an MRSA carrier.
MRSA is the abbreviation for methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus; a strain of the familiar staph bacteria. Staph is a bacterium which lives upon the skin surface or in the nose of virtually every person. While staph infections are among the most common among people, they only cause problems if and when the bacterium enters the body through a cut or scrape on the skin; a condition treated with one of several types of antibiotics, such as penicillin or methicillin. Through overuse of these antibiotics, certain staph bacteria become resistant to the effects of them, producing such strains as MRSA. Carrier possibilities are those who have an active infection or who have had skin to skin contact with those with an infection.
Normally, an infected person will have signs, or symptoms, of the bacteria’s presence. Red bumps, possibly pus filled, will appear at the site of infection; usually a skin abrasion of some sort. The location may be swollen, painful and hot to the touch. These are outward signs that the person is an MRSA carrier, and close contact should be avoided with others.
In other cases, a typically healthy person going about their daily routine could also be an MRSA carrier. No signs of infection, no symptoms of red bumps, no evidence of cuts or scrapes on the skin are giveaways of the presence of bacteria. However, this person has been in close contact with an individual with an active MRSA infection and, as result, is now a host to the MRSA bacteria and passing it on to virtually everyone he meets and touches. This situation is called being “colonized”; a number of bacteria carried on the skin surface or in the nasal passages of a healthy person that is not infected in any way. It is possible to be an MRSA carrier for years without ever displaying any symptoms; a scary and dangerous situation.
Careful, preventative measures can be taken to avoid contact with MRSA. Frequent hand washing with regular soap can eliminate many bacteria on the skin. Keeping any cuts, scratches or abrasions covered when you are in potentially risky situations, such as visiting at the hospital or nursing home, keeps wounds clean of bacteria. Also, when visiting these areas avoid direct contact with infected patients. These measures may not prevent you from becoming an MRSA carrier, but it can greatly reduce the opportunities for infection.
There is no way to determine if you are an MRSA carrier. It is only known that when the infection begins, there are few antibiotics that can fight the infection. Taking precautions to avoid the bacteria is always the best course of action.