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MRSA, The Importance of Hygiene

08.08.2010

MRSA, The Importance of Hygiene

Bacteria is not new, it fact it's been around long before man. What is new however is the increasing number of people who are contracting illness and becoming susceptible to bacterial infections.

Advances in medical technology, resulting in ever more complicated surgical procedures, generally mean that a greater number of patients, doctors, nurses and visitors are present in hospitals. With this amount of human traffic the opportunity for infections to spread are numerous.

Bacteria are a single cell organism, some of which can cause illness and disease. There are other strains however that are completely harmless to us as human beings. Human skin contains approximately 100,000 bacteria per square centimetre and the particular strain known as MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aurers) is carried by about one in three people, on the surface of the skin, or in the nose, without causing or developing any infection. Indeed in healthy people Staphylococcus Aurers is usually harmless.

However like many bacteria it has the potential to become a problem if you are run down, ill, injured or particularly if surgery has been performed. It can cause infection if it enters the body through wounds, or instruments placed in the body.

For these reasons MRSA tends to be more common in hospitals than anywhere else, where people are at their most vulnerable. In fact the number of MRSA deaths doubled in the four years from 1999 to 2003. Infections of MRSA can cause a wide range of symptoms depending on the part of the body infected. This may include, surgical wounds, burns, catheter sites,eyes,skin and blood. Infection often results in redness, swelling and tenderness at the site of the infection.
 
Why is MRSA so Dangerous?

Firstly, the populations in hospitals tend to be older, sicker and weaker than the general population, making them more vulnerable to the infection. Secondly, hospitals conditions
which involve large numbers of people interacting together, having been examined by doctors and nurses, who have touched other patients, are the perfect environment for the transmission of all manner of infections.

Doctors are worried about the future of MRSA. The number of reports of MRSA infections rise year on year and the latest evidence suggests that deaths by MRSA are increasing at a similar rate. Already the spectre of a bug resistant to all antibiotics is approaching.

Although new antibiotics are being developed all the time, pessimistic experts believe it is only a matter of time at current rates until virtually every weapon in the pharmaceutical arsenal is nullified.
 
What Can We Do About It Now?

Hygiene is a tried and tested method of at least protecting the more vulnerable sets of patients from the most dangerous strains. Hand washing between patients is an absolute must for doctors and nurses, or they simply do more harm than good when conducting ward rounds.

Various ideas are being trialled in high risk areas, such as sterile wards containing anti bacterial coatings on handles, fittings, and kitchen and bathroom equipment. This coating incorporating an inorganic, silver based ion technology, which inhibits the growth of a broad spectrum of bacteria, moulds and fungi which cause odours, staining and deterioration. The silver based coating actively inhibits their growth by hindering cell wall transmissions, disrupting cell metabolism and interfering with cellular reproduction. In addition using a coating of this type makes products and surfaces easier to clean and keeps them fresher and cleaner between routine regular cleaning. With the added advantage of
the protection not washing or wearing away.

The introduction of ward matrons, with responsibility for the highest standards of cleanliness is also being introduced. Hospital visitors are being encouraged to clean their hands before and after visiting patients. Patients are being told to ask medical staff to clean their hands before examining them.

Overall the levels of MRSA and MRSA related deaths are concerning to say the least. Better standards of cleanliness and personal hygiene are the key to helping solve this modern day plague. All avenues that contribute towards this goal need implementation, and needs to be implemented now, before infections spread. Everyone needs to be aware of the causes and nature of MRSA and ensure they play their part in helping to combat this most virulent of infections.


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