How to be safe from the MRSA superbug

How to be safe from the MRSA superbug

Summary: As the number of antibiotic-resistant bugs increases, and these bugs get into "the wild," as they will, we'll all have to start following new guidelines in our family lives to stay safe.

TOPICS: Security

Have procedures and follow them.

The number of MRSA staph infections in hospitals is going up, but it's going down in intensive care units because workers there are rigorously following CDC guidelines.

The good news was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,  and the follow-up came in a press release from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), which works specifically on infections.

The big change came in the treatment of catheters, SHEA said, but there is more to worry about than one bug. SHEA has a full compendium on preventing infections on its Web site.

Another big problem lies in press coverage, including the headline I chose. We do focus too much on the damage caused by one bug, and a single source of its transmission, hospitals.

As the number of antibiotic-resistant bugs increases, and these bugs get into "the wild," as they will, we'll all have to start following new guidelines in our family lives to stay safe.

And in fact, that does not mean we all have to be like Monk, because he relies too much on antibacterial wipes and the physical appearance of cleanliness, rather than germ-resistant cleaning itself.

It's a jungle out there. Hot water, vinegar, bleach and soap are your best defense.

Topic: Security

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  • How to be safe from the MRSA superbug

    Its nothing a little manuka honey can't cure.
    Loverock Davidson
  • Most of this comes down to hand washing.

    Cleanliness will not solve everything, but it will stop most bugs dead in their tracks.
    • Very true but you must be consistent

      Most people are not consistent in their daily
      lives. I know I'm not. And we try to make up for
      it with antibiotic wipes and salves. Which only
      makes the bugs worse.

      John McCain's cell in Vietnam wasn't a torture
      chamber, but a leadership academy.

      That may sound harsh, but it's true for
      biological agents.
  • From the hospital quality department ...

    First thing to understand is that you will never kill all of the bacteria on your hands, body, desk, keyboard, mouse, or other items; short of vaporizing the item in a 1500 degree blast furnace.

    That includes MRSA, e.coli, salmonella, and any other bacteria you can think of.

    What you want to do is to reduce the number of bacteria that your immune system has to handle in order to keep a healthy balance. To reduce them, you can either kill them, weaken them, remove them, convert them, or any combination of those.

    Killing leaves survivors who pass on their ability to survive. That's why we have MRSA now. Weakening also leaves survivors, but because the weak ones also survive they dilute the gene pool of the ones that aren't weakened, increasing the amount of time it takes for a resistant strain to become a problem. Converting bacteria from a harmful strain to a neutral or beneficial strain happens so rarely it can be disregarded. Which leaves removal.

    Bacteria have a strategy to prevent removal, it's called bio-films. Plaque on your teeth, scum on the sides of your toilet bowl, or sink, or pool are all types of bio-films. Disrupt the film, and the bacteria are much easier to remove. Acids, caustics, alcohol, and even water can disrupt the films. Ordinary soap, without any biocides, works to break surface tensions, and with running water, will wash away enough bacteria that your body can handle what's left.

    You do have to wash your hands properly, for a long enough period of time, for it to be effective. has a very good copy of the procedure.

    If your hands are contaminated, do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth as those are the primary routes for bacteria to enter your body. Cuts, scrapes, and sores are another way. Cuts and cracks in the skin on your hands provides an almost direct contamination route for infection; so use moisturizers to keep them from cracking, especially during the winter.

    When I worked in business as a pc tech and network administrator, I'd wash my hands maybe once or twice a shift. Working as a DBA and analyst in a hospital, I'm washing them about once an hour. It gets to be habit forming and I find myself washing much more frequently at home, especially during food preparation. You don't have to be Obsessive-Compulsive about it, but you do need to follow the guidelines consistently.
  • Nowheres safe.

    My stepfather survived an anneurism, strokes, 60 hours of surgery to repair the damage and succumbed to a resistant bug that got in through a shunt while he was in hospital.

    Noone blames the hospital, but I reckon its things like antiseptic sprays for home that are doing the worst of the damage. Not only are the bugs developing, our immune systems are being weakened. Children spend a lot of time grubbing on the floor, and pick up most of the bugs there are at some point, fight them off and thus have little trouble when their bodies encounter them in future.
    Spraying antiseptic everywhere - floor, walls and everything including food to make it clinically clean, and 'safe' only saves us from developing a good resistance.

    As Dana and Dr Zinj pointed out, hand-washing is less zealously done as an adult, and the places we go and things we touch as an adult are not as clean as the sanitized childhhood environment. I'm hardly surprised...

    Hygenic, yes, but OCD scrubbing of walls etc? Thats always been excessive, but now its just a swift spray, job done. Pfft! Still OCD, but without the sweat and lost hours if you ask me.

    My kids both have impeccable records for school attendance, the occasional flu over the years means its not 100% but no off school with bellyache or the runs, no funny fevers. No infections in cuts, splinters and the like, and no spots, even of late.
    I put it down to being sensible about what clean is, and isnt. And firm about good fresh food - what my grandparents call 'ealthy, and its obviously not doing them any harm either...