Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) refers to a strain of Staphylococcus aureus which has developed resistance to beta-lactam family of antibiotics such as penicillin and cephalosporin (CDC, 2011). Examples of these antibiotics include methicillin as well as other common antibiotics including penicillin, oxacillin and amoxicillin. MRSA is also known as multi-drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In clinical settings, MRSA complications are often presented by episodic skin infections (CDC, 2011). The first section of this investigative report provides a brief description of the cause of the condition, the mode of transmission, stages of the condition, signs and symptoms of MRSA. The second part of the report will explain why healthcare associated infections such as MRSA occur and will analyse the infection control measures, which should be followed in cases of healthcare associated infection.
Causes, Modes of Transmission, Stages, Signs and Symptoms of MRSA
The genetic elements, known as plasmids, capable of being transferred from one bacterium to another have been identified to offer S. aureus resistance to a number of beta-lactam antibiotics. Scientists have been able to identify at least five types of plasmids, SCCmec genes 1-V, where hospital acquired MRSA genes range from 1-III and community acquired MRSA genes range from IV-V (CDC, 2011). Hospital acquired MRSA have been proven to show resistance to more antibiotics compared to community acquired MRSA.
Modes of Transmission
MRSA is easily transmitted through direct contact with body fluids and skin of infected individuals. Indirectly, MRSA is transmitted through sharing diapers, towels and toys with infected individuals. Carriers of this disease have MRSA in their throats, noses and skins but show no symptoms and can transmit the infection to healthy individuals (Mahmood, Tahir, Jameel et al, 2010).
Stages, Signs and Symptoms
MRSA starts out as a small and simple rash but later forms clusters of pimple-like rashes and burns throughout the body (CDC, 2011). The rashes continue to spread and the quality of living of patients with MRSA is compromised. At this stage, the disease is very contagious and skin contacts with infected individuals will ultimately lead to transmission to healthy subjects. The Center for Disease Control identifies skin lesions and bumps to be the early symptoms of MRSA. These early lesions may appear like a spider bite and the infected region can be swollen, painful and red in colour or can be filled with pus. In advanced stages, MRSA can lead to life-threatening infections such as surgical site infections, bloodstream infections and pneumonia. Advanced skin infections may be presented as boils or pustules which may appear red, swollen and often painful. Skin infections mainly occur at the buttocks, groin, neck, beard region of men and the armpits (California Department of Public Health, 2010).
Why and How Healthcare Associated Infections Such as MRSA Occur
Healthcare-associated infections are common in hospital settings and patients develop the infections during the period when they are receiving treatment for other infections. Infections such as MRSA can occur when patients are in the course of receiving treatments in hospitals, dialysis centre, outpatient surgery centres, long-term care facilities like rehabilitation centres, nursing homes and community clinics (California Department of Public Health, 2010). These infections may also occur when patients are in the process of receiving home-care treatments. Healthcare-associated MRSA may occur through cuts and wounds made during surgical operations or even through medical devices, which are inserted into the body such as IV drips or catheters. In general, healthcare-associated MRSA occurs mainly due to the invasive procedures and transmission from infected patients to healthy individuals. The risk of MRSA infections has been known to increase among patients with compromised immune systems such as those with HIV/AIDS infections and those receiving organ transplant.
Infection Control Measures Which Should be followed in Cases of Healthcare-Associated Infections
Prevention of MRSA
The CDC has provided recommendations for the prevention of healthcare-associated MRSA infections. According to the CDC, all wounds must be bandaged since staph infections are commonly transferred via the areas on the body that have scrapes or cuts. It is also recommended that good hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing are to be followed. Although good hygiene may be recommended for the prevention of MRSA, this intervention may only be successful on the settings such as schools, correctional facilities, athletic facilities and healthcare settings (CDC, 2011).
Treatment of MRSA
While MRSA has proved to be resilient to a number of antibiotics, treatment of MRSA patients with vancomycin has provided positive results in managing cases of MRSA (CDC, 2011). Other treatment options include teicoplanin, teigecycline and linezolid (Mahmood, Tahir, Jameel et al, 2010). However, such medications should never be adopted as empirical therapies, as there are still chances that other strains of Staphylococcus aureus will soon develop resistance to these antibiotics and even to all other classes of antibiotics. In less severe cases of MRSA infections, doctors may also try to avoid the infections by first draining the pus from the sores of patients. This will prevent further infection complications and improve the general condition of the patients.