“The Weakest MRSA+ Germ Can Jump 10 Feet”

hand washing  MRSA


Now that I have your attention, NO, that is not correct information!  Methicillin-resistant staph aureus (MRSA) is otherwise no laughing matter.  MRSA doesn’t “jump” but it definitely does get spread around by unwashed hands

When I recently overheard this misinformation in a comment from one of my patients to another, I broke down in laughter.   MRSA germs can actually live on surfaces for weeks to months.  So the next time you touch such items as the handle of a gas pump, a microwave handle, door knob, computer keyboard, telephone receiver, elevator button, menu in a restaurant, hand rail, gym equipment, Free Weights  MRSA articlemagazine (or even shared toys) in a waiting room, think about where you are putting your hands after touching them. 

 MRSA is the bacteria commonly known to cause boils.  If you’ve ever had it, I promise you won’t forget it.  It can be transmitted by improperly disinfected equipment such as nail implements (even in your doctor or podiatrist’s office).   For this reason, I am not a proponent for cold sterilization of nail implements.  I do however support autoclaving for high temperature sterilization of reused medical instruments.  nail implements

Over my past 18 years in specialty practice in wound care, I have seen more and more patients presenting with reoccurring, symptomatic wound infection,  requiring oral and intravenous antibiotics.  Antibiotic resistance has become a major problem in health care and we now have bacterial resistance to our most broad spectrum antibiotics.  Because of these ongoing problems with antibiotic resistance, I support the use of isolation gowns (& gloves of course) with every wound dressing change.  By the time you actually receive your patient’s wound culture results, your clothing has already come in contact with their skin and clothing and MRSA has begun it’s journey of spreading from patient to patient and possibly to you and your family  as well.

And what about the nose or nares?  MRSA often loves to set up base camp inside your nose.  How does it get there?  Unwashed hands!  Longer fingernails Manicure MRSA  or chipped nail polish becomes a place for MRSA to hide because the bacteria is often missed by haphazard hand washing attempts.

If I were the patient, I would be very proactive about my health.  I would not dream of having a surgical procedure (& especially orthopedic/joint replacement surgery) without first having my health care provider do nasal swab cultures to determine whether my nares were colonized with MRSA.  When you think about the prevalence, suffering and cost of post op surgical site infections, it is well worth the extra precaution to screen (and to treat if necessary) prior to any planned surgery.

 The very best way you can protect yourself is good handwashing, keeping your nails short and well groomed, your polish unchipped, and do not share personal items with other people.

For more information, visit the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website.


Pam Baker, RN




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