S

 

You probably think I have lost my mind, and you are most likely right! But let me explain!

1200px-Staphylococcus_aureus_VISA_2

They are actually cute, as long as they stay put 😊

As an active person, who frequents gyms and yoga studios, and has some knowledge regarding microbiologics, I have a heightened awareness of “disease by contact”. I often get questions from fellow gym rats about MRSA. I don’t want to push any panic buttons, but thought it might be a good idea to talk about exactly what MRSA is, how it is transmitted, how we can avoid it and if needed, how to treat it.

Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacteria that colonizes 20-30% of the healthy population at any given time. It is estimated that 60% of us will have staph, on our skin or in our nostrils, at some point, and around 10-20% never have it on their person.

Why do some have it and others do not? That is personal genetics for you! Some of us have a more inviting living environment for this particular strain of bacteria. And, it is usually harmless as it goes about living on our bodies.

But that is the key point, on our bodies, not inside! Should staph breach our exterior defense and enter into the tissue or blood stream, then we may have a problem.

Human_neutrophil_ingesting_MRSA

I will give you a personal and embarrassing example of just how easy it is to become infected with staph from your own body! I had a hangnail on my thumb, probably from some exercise related event. I should have removed it with a nail clipper or scissor, but no. I was in a hurry, it was bugging me, so I bit it off with my teeth. Yes, I am an animal!😬

One day later my thumb was twice the size it is supposed to be, and I knew I had a staph infection. I had bitten too close to the surface of the skin and caused a small tear. The staph entered and found a warm, moist environment and began to multiply like crazy.

Of course I was busy and didn’t have time to go to the doctor. I also wanted to give my immune system a chance to clear the infection on its own, which happens often as our immune systems are incredibly competent. Apparently I overestimated my healing powers, because just 48 hours later I could barely bend my thumb at the joint.

I swallowed my pride and saw my doc, who laughed and said “a PhD in molecular biology should know better!” She was right, I should have and I still infected myself! After 2 weeks of a standard antibiotic, I was back to using my opposable digit with no ill after affects. Ego was still bruised. 😳

My experience has been, and will continue to be the norm. These stories don’t make headlines.

So, what is MRSA?

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This strain of bacteria has acquired antibiotic resistance by living in a strict environment, such as those in hospitals. A hospital, or hs_id_hai_MRSAhealth care facility, is extremely clean and forces the bacteria to mutate to survive. Under this selective pressure, the bacteria have to acquire genetic mutations to deal with strong cleaning solvents, hot temperatures and multiple forms of antibiotics.  Those individual bacteria that hit the genetic jackpot will reproduce and provide the next generation with those specific genes, making this strain extremely tough to kill.

Hospitals don’t only provide that extreme environment, they also have patients who are already ill, and have compromised immune systems. The act of surgery, intebation and catheterization are all breaches into the body that help facilitate the bacteria’s entry.

sterile-processing1-275x350

 

Infections that occur while a patient is in the hospital are called nosocomial infections. Hospitals are required to publish their nosocomial rates of infection by the CDC and WHO, and the consumer can look up that data, if they are concerned about an upcoming procedure.

 

 

However, you can still acquire MRSA or other forms of staph infections outside of the health care system, that’s known as CA-MRSA, or Community Acquired MRSA.

Who is at risk?

CA-MRSA is transmitted by direct contact with a

mrsa-symptoms-gym

carrier, or contact with an object used by the infected individual. Athletes, particularly those who use mats or pads for their activities are at a higher risk of contracting staph infections. Think boxing, wrestling, gymnastics, yoga…you get the idea. Also, people living in close quarters, who share items in that environment, such as prisons, dorms, and barracks.

 

Hygiene is king!

You knew that was going to be the answer, right! Washing hands, taking showers, disinfecting mats and exercise gear, all of these are the best defense to contracting ANY infections.Cupping-Water

Keep cuts and tears covered at the gym, don’t help the bacteria get into you in the first place. If you do become infected with something, don’t panic or presume the worst!  The odds are great that you have a standard, treatable condition.

mrsa_awareness_poster

MRSA can be effectively treated with strong antibiotics, in combination. Often the sores or blisters that result from the infection can be drained and they heal on their own. It is important to treat the infection before it has a chance to spread via the blood stream, that condition is called sepsis, or systemic and is far harder to treat.

 

I have to admit, I was really happy the other day when I saw the mats being cleaned at kickboxing! 😏

Stay healthy my friends!💕

References:

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/staph/basics.html

VISA; vancomycin intermediate SA, VRSA: vancomycin resistant SA

https://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/visa_vrsa/visa_vrsa.html

Antibiotics used to treat staph infections

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16271060

https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/infections/bacterial-infections/staphylococcus-aureus-infections

CA MRSA

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/infectious-diseases/fact-sheet-community-acquired-methicillin-resistant-staphylococcus-aureus-mrsa.html

 

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19 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: S is for Staphylococcus

  1. Very cool post and as medical professionals we know that staff is everywhere. So glad you are feeling much better and so glad we have antibiotics. We clean our mats with alcohol, but I don’t feel as the gyms are hygenic at all. That leads me thinking about spas and beauty places… pedicures, etc. Oh my…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I once got an infection from a gym. I happened to have what the dermatologist told me was a ruptured cyst on my thigh. I must have knicked it with a razor and ended up with an infection (my friend got one too so we knew that it was from the balls in our Pilates class…this happened over 10 years ago). My Family Dr. treated the infection with some antibiotic. It got worse, but it was the weekend and so I had to go to the ER, where they lanced it (worst pain ever) and gave me stronger antibiotics. That was all a nightmare because when I went back for a dressing change, that was all they did, even though it was obvious that there was “dead stuff?” inside. Luckily, I already had a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist. He had to reopen the wound. The “dead stuff” was sent off, but didn’t come back as anything at that point and I had a hole in my thigh a little wider than your thumb and as deep as the nail.
    Thank goodness our bodies can heal!!
    Sorry for the long commentary, but I still get a little panicky in a gym. That’s why I bring my own mat and wash, wash, wash!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I had a resistant infection in several insect bites in 2015 and spent 6 months being shifted from one antibiotic to another until they found one that knocked it back. I still have a 3 inch diameter scar on my shin from the last flare-up. Your advice is excellent. Like you I was blase and confident in my own healing ability until too late.

    Liked by 1 person

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