With three kids, I am constantly worried about germs. My kids know that when they get in the door after they've been out, they must wash their hands in warm water, with soap, for at least 30 seconds. And when we're out and about, I carry hand sanitizer for all of us.
Such vigilance has made a difference as they get far less colds and flus since I've cracked down on them. Now, however, with the emergence of the deadly MRSA bacteria, it is of the utmost importance for parents to be extra careful.
MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a type of Staph bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics. More than 90,000 Americans get potentially deadly MRSA infections every year and in 2005, nearly 19,000 Americans died from MRSA infections.
One mother, Everly Macario, lost her own young son Simon to MRSA in April 2004. After taking Simon to the emergency room with common cold and flu symptoms, and being released, Simon became lethargic with heavy breathing.
They returned to the hospital where Simon was admitted to the ICU. Simon passed away the next day. During his time in the hospital, doctors were unsure of the source of his infection and it was not until months after his death that it was confirmed to be Community-Associated MRSA.
Because of her experience, Everly is now committed to educating the public on MRSA. To help accomplish her goal, she joined the STOP MRSA Now Coalition, a group of community members who have experienced MRSA first-hand and are standing together to educate others to help prevent the spread of MRSA.
The spokesperson for the coalition is NBA star and father Grant Hill, who himself contracted MRSA. You can read about his experience here.
According to the coalition, there are two types of MRSA, Healthcare-Associated (HA-MRSA), which occurs in hospitals and nursing homes, and a newer type of MRSA called Community-Associated (CA-MRSA). CA-MRSA has recently begun to spread in public settings like gyms, locker rooms, households and schools.
People can carry MRSA and not have any symptoms and they can also transmit the bacteria to other people. MRSA can be easily spread through skin-to-skin contact and by touching contaminated items.
The good news is that there are preventative measures that you and your family can take to protect yourself against this bacteria:
- Scrub up - Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub sanitizer.
- Wipe it down - Use a disinfecting bleach solution to wipe down and disinfect hard surfaces. (1 tablespoon of disinfecting bleach diluted in 1 quart of water)
- Cover your cuts - Keep any nicks or wounds covered with a clean, dry bandage until healed.
- Keep to yourself- Do not share personal items, like towels or razors, that come into contact with bare skin.
- Use a barrier - Keep a towel or clothing between skin and shared equipment.
For more information visit the Stop MRSA Now website. You can also watch this PSA video from spokesperson Grant Hill to learn more: