MRSA: The Rise of a “SUPER BUG”
By Veronica Renaker
It all began after zoology class when I felt as though something had bitten my hand. Nothing drastic, perhaps just a small ant. Much like any other time I had been bitten, over the course of a couple of hours, a minuscule bump had began to surface. A day went by, and the “bite” felt more sensitive than painful. Taking a closer look at the little, red, angry, mark, I started thinking that perhaps a small hair on my hand was ingrown and irritated. I didn’t pay much attention to it following that thought until my hand started having sharp pains.
Again, I assumed that it would all blow over.
I had a history of bug bites being larger than life in the past, so when the bump on my hand became the size of a dime, I wasn’t too concerned at that point. I had rescued feral kittens from underneath a bush the same day that I had Lytle’s science lab, so I started questioning whether or not this “ant bite” was truly an ant bite.
In Bakersfield, not many spiders are poisonous enough to cause the symptoms that I was having. My mom immediately began giving me antibiotics as a precaution, along with the basic care of Neosporin.
The bump, now a boil, was tomato red and so painful that I was unable to rest my hand without a rush of what I’d describe as nerve pain and throbbing. Things didn’t seem to be getting any better, and actually, were getting quite worse. My family and I started questioning whether or not I had a staph infection.
My mom rushed me to the doctor, and the nurse let out a gasp when I exposed my hand from underneath the bandages. Lincy Maliyekkal, FNP said that without a doubt, it was a pretty nasty staph infection and perhaps even MRSA.
At this point I was a little too familiar with what MRSA was and how significant it could be. I must admit that I spent a little too much time internet surfing on WebMD and reading personal testimonies (all of which were horrifying). I practically was under the impression that I was going to lose my hand which was sounding as though it was a possibility.
Using a scalpel, she took a culture which was a whole ordeal in itself due to the fact that I am absolutely terrified of needles or the thought of anything cutting into me while I’m conscious. I was told that I had to wait a number of days to hear the results.
She gave me a prescription of Bactrim in order to treat MRSA in the mean time and a heavy duty prescription of pain medication. Aside from the two shots that I unwillingly received in my buttocks (definitely not winning the best patient award).
I was fortunate enough to avoid the ER which originally had brought me to tears because they had really wanted to send me there.
After a few days, the boil on my hand was not getting any better, so they had to lance and pack it.
Again, an almost comedic visit to the doctor’s office, full of crying, panicking, and vomiting (my mom due to the great amount of distress I had caused her- as I was crying out for everyone to stop continuing on with the procedure).
Unfortunately and to my dismay, I was unable to be numbed for this occasion as I had nerve damage- apart from my nerves being “so inflamed that no amount of anesthesia would make it so that I wouldn’t be able to feel what was going on.” Translation: this was going to hurt BADLY. Oh, and boy, did it!
The final results came back some time after, and it turns out that I was positive for MRSA.
Mrs. Maliyekkal went on to inform us that she believed I had been bitten by a black widow that carried MRSA and thus this all transpired.
She also said something very interesting that I’d love to pass on: “Bakersfield/Kern County is number one for community MRSA. It’s not uncommon that I see patients that come with it.”
So what is MRSA? How do you know if you have MRSA? Is it life threatening? How can you prevent MRSA? Who is prone to getting MRSA?
MRSA AND ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. It’s tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus — or staph — because it’s resistant many used antibiotics.
MRSA was first discovered in 1961. It’s now resistant to methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and many other common antibiotics. While some antibiotics still work, MRSA is constantly adapting. Researchers developing new antibiotics are having a tough time keeping up.
“MRSA can cause a variety of problems ranging from are skin infections and sepsis to pneumonia to bloodstream infections” (CDC).
Community-associated MRSA infections (CA-MRSA) are MRSA infections in healthy people who have not been hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis or surgery) within the past year.
“Anyone can get MRSA on their body from contact with an infected wound or by sharing personal items, such as towels or razors, that have touched infected skin. MRSA infection risk can be increased when a person is in activities or places that involve crowding, skin-to-skin contact, and shared equipment or supplies. People including athletes, daycare and school students, military personnel in barracks, and those who recently received inpatient medical care are at higher risk” (CDC).
Sometimes, people with MRSA skin infections first think they have a spider bite. However, unless a spider is actually seen, the irritation is likely not a spider bite. Most staph skin infections, including MRSA, appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that might be:
Warm to the touch
Full of pus or other drainage
Accompanied by a fever
What Should I Do If I See These Symptoms?
If you or someone in your family experiences these signs and symptoms, cover the area with a bandage, wash your hands, and contact your doctor. It is especially important to contact your doctor if signs and symptoms of an MRSA skin infection are accompanied by a fever.
What Should I do if I Think I Have a Skin Infection?
You can’t tell by looking at the skin if it is a staph infection (including MRSA).
Contact your doctor if you think you have an infection. Finding infections early and getting care make it less likely that the infection will become severe.
Do not try to treat the infection yourself by picking or popping the sore.
Cover possible infections with clean, dry bandages until you can be seen by a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider.
How To Prevent Spreading MRSA
Cover your wounds. Keep wounds covered with clean, dry bandages until healed. Follow your doctor’s instructions about proper care of the wound. Pus from infected wounds can contain MRSA so keeping the infection covered will help prevent the spread to others. Bandages and tape can be thrown away with the regular trash. Do not try to treat the infection yourself by picking or popping the sore.
Clean your hands often. You, your family, and others in close contact should wash their hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub, especially after changing the bandage or touching the infected wound.
Do not share personal items. Personal items include towels, washcloths, razors and clothing, including uniforms.
Wash used sheets, towels, and clothes with water and laundry detergent. Use a dryer to dry them completely.
Wash clothes according to manufacturer’s instructions on the label. Clean your hands after touching dirty clothes.
All information verified by the CDC: Https://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/