MRSA – No longer just a hospital bug
Why this is important for professionals and patients alike
Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), or Golden Staph, as it is more commonly referred to has long been thought of as the “infection you catch in hospital”. It is an antibiotic resistant form of staph (hence the category of ‘superbug’) that colonises in the skin, respiratory tract or urinary tract. It is generally spread via skin to skin contact, cuts, and contaminated surfaces – hence why it has primarily been localised to hospitals - until recently. While most people who carry the bacteria can do so without ever showing any symptoms, others suffer the extreme with the ability of MRSA to cause catastrophic life changing injuries of even death.
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare has listed MRSA as one of twelve bacterial families that is important to monitor due to the “significant impact” they can have on one’s health. Whilst a national antimicrobial resistance strategy has been developed to help combat the incidence and impact of MRSA in the hospital setting, recent findings have shown that community onset MRSA, that is contracting MRSA from outside the hospital environment, is becoming more prevalent and a greater risk, with a decreased chance of standard antibiotics being effective and longer treatment duration (Cameron et al, 2019).
Cameron et al (2019) are the first to collate data in Australia specifically on the community onset of MRSA. The results showed critical and inconsistent underreporting, as well as stark regional differences in the incidence of infection, with the highest rate of incidence in areas at socioeconomic disadvantage.
What is the significance for a health, beauty or massage clinic and their patients?
Essentially, there is now a greater risk of MRSA reaching the surfaces in a private clinic than before. No longer is the ‘super-bug’ within a controlled environment of the hospital setting, nor is it the only place where utmost hygiene is required to prevent and reduce transmission. Considering half the population carrying the virus is asymptomatic, one will never know what each client will bring into the clinic room. The rapid spread of Coronavirus and its status as ‘pandemic’ clearly demonstrates how quickly bacteria can transmit – not just person to person, but across entire continents. It is unsurprising that studies have found that MRSA is more likely to be found on objects that have not been cleaned, due to its known ability to survive on inanimate surfaces for long periods of this time. What these findings highlight is that not only is hygiene and diligence important in the healthcare setting, but also where there is a high turnover of clientele that come into contact with a shared surface – ie the therapy bed.
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