MRSA is a highly contagious bacterial infection that was first identified in a hospital in the United Kingdom in 1961. It is treatable with antibiotics, but is resistant to many antibiotics like methicillin, penicillin, and other related antibiotics.
Currently (2011) Hospital Acquired (HA-MRSA), has been decreasing due to changes made by hospitals to prevent the spread of the bacteria. There are a number of reasons that MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) flourished in hospitals in the past.
MRSA Exposure In Hospitals
There was a time that there was a high risk of getting MRSA in a hospital. These are some of the reasons that this was true:
- Vulnerable Patients – the people in hospitals have a lowered immune system that makes them more susceptible to a MRSA infection because they are not able to fight off the bacteria.
- Crowded Conditions – there are many people in a small area in a hospital, which makes it easy for contact among those who can infect others and those who are vulnerable to getting an infection.
- Antibiotic Administration – antibiotics are used often in hospital settings. Staphylococcus aureus is a highly adaptable bacterium that can mutate and evolve into resistant strains that don’t respond to some antibiotics.
- MRSA Colonization – some people carry the bacteria in the nose (most common), groin, armpits, and skin folds with no symptoms but are still able to spread the bacteria.
- Shared Medical Equipment – MRSA can live an extended period of time on surfaces. When they are not sanitized properly, direct contact with an infected surface can spread the bacteria.
- Healthcare Workers – when a healthcare worker doesn’t use gloves or wash his or her hands, the bacteria can be spread from patient to patient.
Hospitals now test for MRSA infections and colonization when patients are admitted to the hospital. For those who test positive, they are isolated and protocol is followed to avoid the bacteria from spreading. Nurses and other healthcare professionals will protect themselves from exposure and dispose of contaminated equipment properly. Sanitation procedures will be strictly followed when caring for an infected patient.
Hospital Workers Prevention
Hospital workers and their family are more likely to acquire MRSA than those in other professions. It is because of the exposure to the bacteria when caring for patients and disinfecting equipment. A hospital worker that doesn’t follow protocol for MRSA prevention is more likely to acquire the infection and to be a carrier.
By following procedure, building a strong immune system, and keeping vulnerable skin covered, a healthcare professional can reduce the risk of infection. Hand washing, changing out of scrubs, and showering immediately when getting home will also help reduce the risk.
Lower Amount Of Antibiotics Used
Hospitals have reduced the indiscriminate use of antibiotics to when it was discovered that the overuse of antibiotics contributed to MRSA evolving. In addition, it was discovered that antibiotics were not able to treat viruses as originally believed.
MRSA in hospitals is decreasing, but precautions will still need to be continued to prevent the spread of the bacteria.