The NP Answers Your FAQ: Is This a Spider Bite….Or MRSA?
There is a new “Superbug” in the community which is a danger for even the young and healthy, and we are seeing more college students with these skin infections which look like spider bites, but are, in fact, MRSA infections.
What is MRSA?
Humans are a natural reservoir of staphylococcus aureus. As many as 50% of healthy adults are colonized with Staph aureus at any given time. Until the 1980’s, infections with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was thought to occur only in hospitals and other health-care facilities. But in recent years, community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) strains have emerged. These aggressive skin and soft-tissue infections, if inappropriately treated, can progress to serious, even fatal, necrotizing conditions.
What does MRSA look like?
Patients often develop itchy red bumps or boils that are often mistaken for spider bites. Often they are single lesions that get progressively larger, redder, warmer and more painful to touch. Sometimes pus drains from these infectious lesions. If the surrounding skin becomes red and warm (cellulitis) this means the infection is spreading. Sometimes fever, chills and lymph-gland swelling occur.
How do I become infected with MRSA?
Infections caused by CA-MRSA are easily transmitted through simple skin-to-skin contact (even without a skin break) with an infected person or by contact with contaminated objects or surfaces. Outbreaks have been reported among athletes (especially football players and wrestlers), military recruits, correctional facility inmates, injection drug users, students and children in day care centers.
Outbreaks have been linked to sharing personal items (soap, towels, razors) and using shared equipment in gyms, health clubs and spas in cases in which people have had bare skin contact with items contaminated with the bacteria.
Remember the 5 C’s:
1) Close crowded living quarters
2) Skin to skin contact with an infected person or carrier,
3) Compromised skin integrity,
4) Contaminated surfaces,
5) Suboptimal cleanliness.
What is the Treatment for CA-MRSA?
Patients with mild, uncomplicated skin and soft-tissue infections may need a culture sent to the lab for bacterial identification. If MRSA is suspected, antibiotics may be started immediately. Frequent medical follow-up visits to track the course of the infection is recommended. It is important NOT to wait and NOT to self-medicate if you have a serious wound infection. Delay in receiving proper treatment can result in a more prolonged healing time. More serious infections my be sent to the Emergency Department.
How Can I Keep from Getting MRSA infections?
1) Frequent hand washing
2) Keep open skin sores covered with dry dressings.
3) Limit sharing of personal items (razors, towels etc)
4) Avoid contact sports until skin lesions have healed.
5) Wipe surfaces of shared equipment with disinfectantbefore and after use (dilute bleach solution)
We hope these precautions will limit your risk of acquiring CA-MRSA infection. If you do have signs and symptoms indicating possible MRSA infection, don’t delay…call today for an appointment with your Medical Provider. Student Health and Counseling Service: (760) 750-4915