I’m sure you have been seeing outbreaks of MRSA in the news recently. News reports tend to drop medical acronyms and assume the rest of us are right there with them, but in case you need the break down, MRSA is a virulent strain of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (staph a.). It is a staph bacterium usually associated with hospitals and nursing homes that infects bed sores and keep wounds from healing. However, as of late, MRSA has been spreading to schools and playgrounds, and even to your gym! Learn how to avoid contracting MRSA for your own safety.
Where does MRSA comes from?
Actually, about 25% of people normally carry staph bacterias in their nose, mouth, genitals, and anal area. Only 1% carry the MRSA strain, but this does not usually manifest infections. MRSA skin infections commonly occur at sites of visible skin trauma, such as cuts and abrasions, and areas of the body covered by hair (e.g., back of neck, groin, buttock, armpit, beard area of men). There have also been many cases of MRSA infections beginning on feet, as your feet are very prone to picking up bacteria from the floor (locker room or shower floor). Infections occur when this normally healthy bacteria gets into a cut or has direct access to your bloodstream.
In general there is a higher incidence rate among football teams, in military training facilities, dormitories, shelters and prisons. This could be due to crowded conditions, with increased skin to skin contact after injuries or turf burn. I’m sure David Lee, from the Golden State Warriors, could attest to the virulence of an MRSA infection after suffering for several months with “a hole in his elbow” after a run in with another player’s teeth. Even with proper care and cleaning (I’m sure not missing a game hasn’t helped too much), it has been months of pain.
More Facts on MRSA
How is it Spread? What Does it Look Like?
At the gym, the infection can be spread by a shared towel, razor or piece of sports equipment, or through skin-to-skin contact.
Staph a. grows rapidly in warm, moist environments, and could potentially live on surfaces like the grips of exercise machines.
It maybe hard to tell where you contracted a staph infection because the bacteria has a long incubation period before spreading to a serious condition.
These staph infections range from simple, pimple-like boils, to antibiotic-resistant infections, to flesh-eating infections. The difference between all these is the strength of the infection, how deep it goes, how fast it spreads, and how treatable it is with antibiotics. The antibiotic-resistant infections are more common in North America, because of our overuse of antibiotics. MRSA happens to be one of the strains that is methicillin-resistant, leaving few choices for medical treatment.
Symptoms include inflammation or cellulitis which can look like: redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. Any skin sore or ulcer that has these signs may be developing cellulitis. If the staph infection spreads, the person may develop a fever, sometimes with chills and sweats, as well as swelling in the area.