Here is a brief MRSA information pack.
What is MRSA?
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that causes difficult to treat infections. It is a more resistant variation of Staphylococcus aureus (SA).
Where is MRSA Found?
About 30% of people in the UK carry MRSA in their nose or on their skin. It does not become a problem unless it enters the body.
Symptoms of MRSA
In the first instance boils, abscesses, sties, carbuncles and impetigo may develop. Once MRSA enters the blood stream Septicaemia, septic shock, lung infection and infection of the heart lining can occur.
The Spreading of MRSA
MRSA can be spread via the hands (skin-to-skin contact), by sneezing or by touching shared equipment that is also used by someone with MRSA.
Information About Hospital Acquired MRSA
Hospital Acquired MRSA strikes around 100,000 people every year, which is about 44% of all cases. This costs the NHS £1 billion annually. Government statistics point to an increase in hospital MRSA of 60% over the past decade. The Office For National Statistics found that MRSA deaths are around 1,650 (recorded in 2005 and 2006).
The Spreading of Hospital MRSA
Inadequate cleaning and hygiene procedures by hospital staff are the main cause of MRSA in hospitals. This is the means by which MRSA bacteria can transfer from patient to patient. Healthcare workers may pick up the bacteria on their clothes or on their hands. Hospital equipment also may not be adequately cleaned.
Community Acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA)
Carriers of CA-MRSA do not necessarily demonstrate symptoms of MRSA. Strains of Staphylococcus aureus (SA) are unable to colonise their hosts for long periods of time before causing infections. CA-MRSA is relatively harmless and if symptoms do occur it may be in the form of boils or minor infections.
In contrast ‘Killer’ MRSA destroys the immune system. It is a rare mutation of MRSA. Symptoms may include pneumonia, very high temperatures and coughing up blood. If it spreads to the lungs only a quarter of victims survive.
Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA)
VRSA is a rare strain of MRSA that is resistant to Vancomycin. Vancomycin is the drug of last resort and is used when all other drugs have failed to treat MRSA.
Efforts To Combat MRSA
The Labour government have launched a programme that will see hospitals ‘deep cleaned’. However, we have been taking measures to combat MRSA for some time.
In the 1990′s, the NHS was isolating all patients with MRSA and screening all staff. If staff were carrying MRSA, then they would be removed from work until they had undergone eradication therapy.
Since 2004, the ‘clean your hands’ campaign has led to alcohol-based hand rubs being placed at the entrance to wards and near all beds. Staff and visitors are encouraged to wash their hands regularly.
The number of cleaners in the NHS fell from 100,000 in 1984 to 55,000 in 2004. This trend must be reversed if the battle with MRSA is to be won. Furthermore, the contractual arrangements made with the private sector responsible for cleaning hospitals should be reassessed.
The reintroduction of matrons, continuous MRSA education programmes directed at hospital staff and new powers given to hospital nurses to ensure that visitors wash their hands regularly are crucial if we are to be successful in combating MRSA.