For the past many years scientists have been tracking a type of bacteria called MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which has been described in the media as a “super bug” because it is resistant to certain antibiotics and is more deadly than other type of Staph aureus. Once seen largely inside of hospital, MRSA infections which are acquired in the community are becoming more common.
Recently it was reported that MRSA infections acquired inside the hospital are decreasing. However, it appears that community acquired infections of MRSA, those which a person’s catches without for example, being a patient in a hospital, are on the rise.
MRSA can spread from one person to another through the touching of the infected wound on another person’s body, using towels or other items which have been in contact with another person’s wounds, or coming into contact with anything else such as bandages which have been in contact with a wound contaminated with MRSA.
Steps you can take to decrease the risk of developing a community acquired: MRSA, Staph, or any other infection, include:
1. Washing your hands
2. Active skin infections which are draining pus or fluid should be covered with bandages, and a person should carefully dispose of dirty bandages and wash their hands after changing the dressing.
As the incidence of community acquired MRSA infections is increasing, investigators are seeing outbreaks occur in groups such as sports teams, children, prisoners and among the population of men who have sex with men. Interestingly, one of the groups in the United States that has the highest rate of MRSA infections (when compared to other Staph infections) is intravenous and inhalation drug users.
In fact, the first case of MRSA was reported in an intravenous drug user. Up to 75% of the skin and soft tissue infections in a drug user are caused by a specific type of MRSA, called “USA300 MRSA.” This type of community acquired MRSA may one day become the predominant type of MRSA in both community and hospital populations. Inhalation and injection drug users are believed to be a human reservoir for this type of MRSA. However, as MRSA has spread into the general population, its prevalence among recreational drug users has decreased.
Nonetheless, Staph infections, such as MRSA, are much more common among drug users than in the general population, and recreational drug users are more likely to be “carriers” of Staph species than the general population.
As recreation drug users are considered high risk for Staph infections, efforts to prevent the transmission of Staph in this population could have protective effects for the general population.