Being An MRSA Carrier
A Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carrier is a person who has the MRSA bacteria living on their skin or in their nose but who does not demonstrate the symptoms of MRSA. Such people are often described as being colonised with MRSA.
Colonisation and MRSA Infection
It is particularly important when referring to an MRSA carrier that we distinguish between MRSA colonisation and MRSA infection. In the case of colonisation, and unlike infection, the bacteria causes no adverse effects in a person and it exists on their skin or in their nose but does nothing more. The patient might experience pus discharging from a wound for example. An appropriate treatment for the infection is usually required.
Being An MRSA Carrier – The Risks
MRSA carriers can lead a normal life. They do, however, have to be more diligent with personal hygiene. For example, when sneezing, carriers should always cover their nose with a tissue and wash their hands thoroughly and regularly. There exists minimal risk to a person who is a carrier providing that their skin is not broken. Should an open wound develop, the infection bacteria can enter the carrier’s body. In respect of others, carriers pose little threat to healthy people. A person with an open wound or eczema, however, because their skin is not intact, is more vulnerable to infection.
The Carrier and MRSA Spreading
Bacteria are spread from person to person by direct contact. A person with MRSA on their skin, especially on their hands, may touch another person and by doing so can spread MRSA. A person may have MRSA on their hands as a result of being a carrier or from touching another person who is a carrier or infected with MRSA. People with weak immune systems, and are living in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare centres, are most susceptible to MRSA infection.
The Carrier and MRSA Prevention
There are a number of measures a carrier can take to help prevent the spread of MRSA:
- Carriers should wash their hands with soap and warm running water for at least 15 seconds and regularly;
- Carriers should wash their body with antiseptic soap;
- Carriers should never share personal hygiene items;
- Carriers should disinfect the home, particularly the kitchen and the bathroom;
- Carriers should wash linens and towels with bleach and dry their clothes in a dryer (to help kill bacteria);
- Carriers should avoid if possible, and certainly be more careful around, people with weak immune systems and people with skin conditions or wounds that would make them more susceptible.
So how do you know if you are a carrier?
Knowing You Are An MRSA Carrier
Most people who are MRSA carriers don’t know it. If you experience repeated bouts of MRSA infections then you may be a carrier. If people you are in regular and close contact with experience MRSA infections, then you may be a carrier.
Once a carrier not always a carrier. Following treatment for MRSA, a patient can completely cover themselves using Chlorhexidine or Hexachlorophene antiseptic soap, when showering. Additionally, Mupirocin can be applied to each nostril. There are other antibiotics that a doctor may prescribe with include Clindamycin or Levofloxacin. It is highly advisable that if decolonisation is to be effective, the whole family are involved. For an MRSA carrier, there are solutions to being colonised, but the most important measure they can take is to ensure that high standards of personal hygiene are continually maintained.