MRSA – The Legacy

Anyone who’s ever tested positive for an MRSA infection will know what I’m talking about here. I’m curious to know when if ever, you can be declared free of this dreaded superbug? The standard procedure seems to be to aim for three consecutive negative screening swabs. Is this really enough to give you the green light for all-clear? Or does a requisite time-frame have to elapse before a recurrence/repeat recurrence can be ruled out? It’s been my own personal experience to discover that the medical profession does not seem to want to know or care about the reality of recurrence. Once you’ve been labelled with an MRSA status, it seems that you are forever more to be viewed as a ‘threat’ to mankind and believe me, it produces some ‘interesting’ reactions.

A close friend of mine (with a very good sense of humour) was admitted to hospital this week to have some neurosurgery performed on his back. He recounted to me the following discussion which took place between him and the admissions nurse.

Question: Have you ever had an MRSA infection?

Answer: No, but I have a good friend who has.

Question: Have you been in close contact with your friend?

Answer: Yes, but if you mean have we had sex – the answer is No! (Ha!Ha!)

Question: (asked with zero humour) Have you been in recent contact?

Answer: Yes, I have – our families meet regularly.

The interrogation terminated at this stage and my friend was then subjected to a full screening for MRSA prior to his surgery. He rang me this evening to tell me what had happened and we shared a good laugh about it together. I have had two reactions to this scenario.

Firstly, it’s good to know that patients are being screened whenever there is any doubt about the possibility of MRSA contamination. However I’d like to point out that the logic for screening in this instance seems to have been as a safety precaution for the hospital rather than for the patient. My friend was admitted on the day of his surgery and therefore the result of the screening would not have been known prior to his operation. Secondly, my friend was not asked for any details about my present status. It seemed to be a case of “once an MRSA risk – always an MRSA risk”.

My situation is that I contracted MRSA osteomyelitis of the frontal bone of the skull following surgery two years ago. I underwent intensive intra-venous antibiotic therapy to eradicate the infection and eventually got the all-clear some three months later following repeated MRSA screening. However my MRSA infection recurred ‘out of the blue’ nine months later and required further intensive antibiotic treatment plus extensive surgery to remove the diseased bone. I have not had any screening since the most recent surgery and yet it appears that I am still to be tarnished with the same ‘leper’ status acquired two years ago. I have been subjected to many strange reactions over the years. I’m aware that a huge amount of ignorance exists around having a positive MRSA status and therefore I can laugh at the consequences – I’ve no doubt that others are hurt and offended by the reaction received. There is a question that remains unanswered here however – “when can someone who has a history of recurrence of MRSA infection, be considered to be risk free?”. I’ve never been able to elicit a confident reply to this question from the medics. I suppose it’s a bit like the uncertainty faced by people who’ve survived cancer – no doctor can tell them with utter confidence that they will remain free of the disease. My conscience has taught me to stay clear of anyone who has had recent surgery or is immuno-compromised and I also avoid newborn babies for the same reason. I otherwise go about life quite normally without undue worries. However, the legacy lives on and I’d love someone to be able to tell me that I can leave it all behind.

Have you got any views on this?

81 Responses to MRSA – The Legacy

  1. Rhoda says:

    I think we will all confront MRSA in our lives and because it is so very contagious. And it lives so long. You can pick up MRSA just by someone with it touching their nose and then touching anything someone else is going to touch. Testing has shown that the bacteria can live at least two weeks at room temperature. It does seem that some people are more likely than others to be effected by MRSA, and some are less likely, like those who already carry the Herpes Virus.
    Best of luck to you. Hopefully there will be more research done on why some are more likely than others to contract MRSA.

  2. Ms Ellisa says:

    Hi Steph! I am a medical student and you probably want to check your nose for MRSA. I don’t know how to translate it in English, but it’s most likely that you are what we call directly translated “healthy carrier”. Our doctors in Greece tell us that in Greece 25% of us are in fact healthy carriers- as you can probably imagine we are healthy and not dead and actually are about to be doctors, so we will be in contact with newborns etc etc.
    The MRSA lives in your nose together with other bacteria (which we all have, every person) but you are neither affected nor ill by it. However,if it moves further in your nose, that’s when you’re ill.
    The “all safety” thing has mostly to do with doctors 1.trying to extinguish resistant bacteria and not let it get to other people 2.trying not to let a healthy carrier get sick,and if they do,provide the nescessary antibiotics fast and at the right dosage. So they have to know if you are a healthy carrier.
    You shouldn’t be so scared. It’s not that big a deal. It’s just that some hospitals have managed to keep a non-MRSA environment and want to keep it that way because it’s much much safer.
    You as a healthy carrier ar in the same risk of getting ill as anybody.
    But again, I’m just a student. You should ask a fully qualified doctor if it bothers you. :-)
    I like your blog btw :-)

  3. Steph says:

    Thanks Ms E for your comments. I respect your viewpoint but would like to add the following:-

    1. Nothing you’ve mentioned is news to me. Being well-informed is half the battle.
    2. I am not in the least bit scared
    3. I have however every reason to be concerned because my medical history has taught me to follow my instincts and to speak my mind
    4. I would hate to be labelled a scaremonger about the spread of MRSA (there are enough of those doing the circuit already).
    5. I wrote this post to highlight awareness of the ignorance that exists around being a healthy carrier and your comments have been beneficial to that process – thanks! :-)

  4. Ms Ellisa says:

    I’m sorry.
    I misunderstood, I thought you didn’t know and that some ignorant doctor made you feel bad.
    And your post is really great- not at all a “scaremonger”… :-)

  5. Caoimhin says:

    I find it incredible that the whole nation, it’s politicians and government agencies, can mobilize and unite in the face of the Foot and Mouth threat to a few sheep and cows, and not find the same enthusiasm and committment to fight the alarming growth of HCAI’s in our health care system. All the best Steph and I hope you get your “green light” very soon!

  6. Knipex says:

    I am afraid that its much worse than you think.

    Research in 2000 showed that MRSA can survice for more than 300 days on dry surfaces

    VRE : >200 days
    C. difficile: >200 days
    Acinetobacter: >300 days

    So not only may you be a carrier but you home, your car and your clothing may be a reservoir of contamination. Some microbiologists will argue (thankfully not many) that environmental contamination has no effect on patient acquesition but there are many studies that prove that environmental contamination will result in contaminated hands. There is also increasing evidence (and a growing acceptance) that environemental contamination is a major casue or patient infection.

    What is even more worring is that studies prove that current methods of manual deep cleaning \ terminal cleaning with disinfectants is just not up to the job.

    A paper publised in the Journal of Hospital Infection by French et all. in 2004 showed that after supervised terminal cleaning 66% of swabs tested still showed positive for MRSA.

    In 1998 Blyth et al. published a paer showing that after cleaning with hypochlorite and alcahol wipes that 46% of rooms reamined contaminated with MRSA.

    The same has been shown for VRE, C diff and Acinetobacter.

    Technologies exisit that claim to be effective but as there are no guidelines in Ireland how do infection controll know which tehcnologies work and which dont. In the UK there is a Rapid Review Panel that looks at these technologies and grades them. This information is widely published and available but even in the Uk there is no requirement to use proven technology or funding put in place so they can be adopted.

    At the very least Irish hospitals and infection controll teams shopuld be aware of the results from the UK Rapid Review Panel to allow them to make informed decisions when buying products or technology.

    http://www.hpa.org.uk/infections/topics_az/rapid_review/default.htm

  7. SUE says:

    Well then what do you use to clean the surfaces to get rid of the MRSA infection. I was told to bleach down my house.

    What do I use to clean my HOUSE???????

    PLEASE HELP.

    SUE

  8. Steph says:

    Hi Sue – I’m afraid I’m not in a position to advise you on your query. I can clarify though that surfaces get contaminated, not infected. Big difference. MRSA contamination is everywhere so where do you draw the line? No medic has ever advised me to disinfect my home. The emphasis has always been put on treatment to stamp out infection. I just apply common sense otherwise – not disinfectant.
    Take care, Steph

  9. Knipex says:

    Sue

    If you are fit and healthy then regularly disinfecting your house will actually do more harm than good. All surfaces have bacterial contamination but 90% of hte contamination is good bacteria that will either do you no harm or is benificial. In a normal home this is actually good as hte good bacteria will compete with the bad for living space and actually help to control the bad.

    MRSA is not like HIV, if you are healthy and fit the chances are it will do you no harm what so ever. Keep your home clean and if you wish every so often disinfect work surfaces and with a standard surface cleaner and everything will be fine, unless you have someone in the house whose immune system is seriously compromised then dont worry

    Hospitals are a different case. People in Hospitals are normally ill (and I dont mean a bad cold), have damaged imune systems and are much more susceptible to infection than you or I. To these people bacteria (and virus’s and fungi) that would be harmless to you or me can cause severe infection. MRSA that would do nothing to you or me will cause infection to patients with compromised immune systems. To top this off the large number of ill patients with infections etc shed this infection onto surfaces so you need up with more dangerous pathogens and patients that have compromised imuse systems. As a result surface need to be sterile or as close to sterile as possible.

    There is no need for people to over react and panic. A little education on the problem and common sense will keep people safe.

  10. [...] has been obtained but it appears that you remain a ‘labelled’ patient for evermore. The legacy lives [...]

  11. Ashley says:

    hello. well i contracted mrsa through an outbreak at the jail we had here in town. and i have never been so sick in my life. but there is one question that i ask and not one doctor nor web site can seem to give me and asnswer. once you contract mrsa do you have it for life, are you more prone to getting it? or are you clear for life once it settels down

  12. Steph says:

    Hi there, Ashley

    I wish I could get answers to those questions myself. I think the reality is that MRSA is still a fairly unknown quantity and the doctors don’t necessarily know/have the definitive answers. I feel there is also a reluctance from the medical profession to get too involved because of the fear of litigation. As a result, many patients are left with a lot of unanswered questions and it’s a lonely road to be on.

  13. Knipex says:

    Ashley

    Sorry for the delay in replying.

    I am sorry not to have better news for you but there are actually two schools of thought. Some maintain that Vancomycin will eliminate MRSA from your system, others maintain that it merely suppresses the MRSA and that it will reappear the next time your immune system is seriously compromised.

    In short no one is really sure.

    The best advice I can give is to eat a health diet, keep reasonably fit and try to get enough sleep. My keeping healthy and fit you will keep your immune system in good condition and help prevent a recurrence of MRSA. But then that is good advice for anyone.

  14. Leigh says:

    Hey,

    Just wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience. I got MRSA after having a C-Section several years ago. Even though, at the time, my doctor told me that I was over the infection, since then I have been breaking out with staph infections. Pimple looking places, boils etc. My current doctor does not seem concerned about this, but I am. Just wondering if anyone else has had similar experiences. Thanks

  15. Steph says:

    Hello Leigh

    I’m sorry to hear of your experience with MRSA a few years ago. If you’ve not had any recurrence of MRSA in the interim, then it would appear that your original treatment was highly successful.

    However, I’m not surprised to hear that you are now colonised with the Staph aureus bacteria – I am too. I’m no expert in microbiology so I’m only speculating when I say that I think the intensive treatment given to eradicate MRSA, changes your immunity status and leaves you susceptible to colonisation from other more common bacteria, like Staph A. I was known to be colonised with Staph A (repeat nasal swabs) but nothing was done about it until I developed a nasty Staph infection in my hand last November. I was treated with oral antibiotics for 3 weeks following culture and sensitivity testing and since then have been using a nasal ointment (Bactroban) for 5 days every month as part of a 6-month de-contamination process. I’m hoping the next nasal swab will give me the all-clear.

    I would recommend you consider a similar de-contamination process. It’s an inexpensive and effective way to protect yourself against future more serious infections. I wish you the best of luck!

  16. Michelle says:

    Hello,

    I was the passenger in a roll-over motor vehicle accident two years ago. My back, both legs, arms, and sternum were broke, collapsed both lungs, paralyzed my left arm (figures….I was left handed), and suffered brain injury. I got MRSA in one of my legs while in the hospital. Who knows if I was already a carrier or not, either way my injuries ultimately brought on the infection. I took IV treatments of Vanc for several weeks and eventually underwent surgery to de-breed my leg of the infection. I have been “free” of the infection for 17 months now however, I visit my infectious disease doctor every six months to give blood so that all the necessary labs tests can be done to ensure that I’m still “free”.
    Since the accident I have had eight surgeries that have covered 14 parts of my body. So far so good………but I’m living in some sort of paranoid world now. Every morning I inspect my body and I am overly careful when out in public. I use disinfectant spray on EVERYTHING and I think I wash my hands about 50 times a day. Bactroban, Hibiclens, Vanc, and “de-breed” seem to be a normal part of my vocab these days!I’m just waiting and wondering………hoping that it will not return.
    After reading huge amounts of information as many of you have, I seem to hit a “gray” area of “maybe”, “possible”, “recurrence”, “prevention”, “unknowns”, etc.
    Is there not a time period that will elapse before I can sleep easier knowing that I am truly rid of this superbug? I live a healthy lifestyle (with the exception of the fews days proceeding each surgery) but should I remain this cautious forever? I would really love to find a website that shows accurate statistics of fighting this “bug” and the outcomes revealed……..over time. Is there such a website?

    Thanks

  17. Steph says:

    Michelle – Welcome!

    Wow! Your list of injuries leaves me breathless. You are some survivor!

    I can totally identify with your concern about MRSA recurrence. It does seems to be a very grey area and I have yet to find anyone who can give me concrete answers. I’m clear of MRSA but continue to be contaminated with Staph A despite recently going through a prescribed decontamination process. Every time an infection breaks out (anywhere), it tests positive for Staph A and I’m treated with a sensitive antibiotic. At first, I thought this was just coincidence as Staph A contamination is everywhere but now I believe it’s got more to do with my immunity status following MRSA treatment. I’m due to see a specialist shortly to discuss the situation.

    You’ve had a lot of surgery so I suppose in many ways, you’re lucky to have escaped with only one outbreak of MRSA. It says a lot for your immune system. As you know, MRSA contamination is everywhere but this is not a problem for people who are quite healthy. In theory, as long as you are well there is no reason why environmental contamination should be any more of a risk to you than anyone else. I have never disinfected my house although I do use an anti-bacterial hand mousse whenever I feel there might be a risk of cross-contamination.

    I feel the words above from Knipex are well worth considering:

    “If you are fit and healthy, then regularly disinfecting your house will actually do more harm than good. All surfaces have bacterial contamination but 90% of the contamination is good bacteria that will either do you no harm or is beneficial. In a normal home this is actually good as the good bacteria will compete with the bad for living space and actually help to control the bad.

    MRSA is not like HIV, if you are healthy and fit the chances are it will do you no harm what so ever. Keep your home clean and if you wish every so often disinfect work surfaces and with a standard surface cleaner and everything will be fine, unless you have someone in the house whose immune system is seriously compromised then don’t worry.”

    Michelle, while MRSA is a very understandable concern for you, I feel it pales into insignificance when compared with the awfulness of what you’ve survived. You’re alive! I’m a huge believer in celebrating life. Not everyone gets that chance.

    I wish you the best of luck and thanks for visiting.

  18. Michelle says:

    Hi Steph,

    Thanks for the kind words! You are certainly right about the injuries that I have overcome vs. my encounter with MRSA. Luckily, because of my head injury I don’t remember a thing that I went through for the first eight to ten weeks proceeding the wreck. I woke up from my “extended vacation” in la-la land and MRSA was at that time, on the front burner. I salute my mother for her “strongness” to keep it together all the nights that she slept on a roll-away bed in the hospital……..enduring the agony with me….in a sense!
    Good luck with your doctor appt. I wish you the best of luck!

    • Lisa says:

      I just found out I have MRSA from what looked like a pimple on my ear. I’m worried about reoccurence. Do I see a specialist? I am a teacher. Do I notify my principal? How likely is it to reocur?

  19. angel serrano says:

    I have a great concern my daughter has been married for just a little over 2 weeks and we just found out that her husband has mrsa. I have been searching for the answer on the internet but i cant find an answer. my question is this. if the two of them are having sex is the mrsa virus able to get into my daughter if they are not having protected sex? he has had around 3-4 episodes of the mrsa breakout. sores that looked like a big red boil, a spider bite looking sore on his leg, aand a real ugly looking sore (2) on the back of his neck. i was wondering what these sores came from. so now i know. I just hope and pray that she hasnt gotten infected already…..

  20. Steph says:

    Hello Angel

    First things first, MRSA isn’t a virus. It’s a bacterial infection and an infected person will not ‘infect’ a healthy person as long as the healthy person has no open wounds. The chances are that your daughter is colonised with MRSA (carrying the bacteria on her skin) but again this is harmless to her as long as she is well.

    I suggest that your daughter and her husband should have a discussion with a doctor to air their concerns. MRSA infection can be eradicated with the right drugs. I’m living proof of that.

  21. Michelle says:

    Hi Angel,

    When my MRSA was active I had about 10 open wounds on my leg. The wounds had to be packed with fresh bandages everyday to prevent the wounds from healing over the top of the sore but not heal down inside it. Luckily, my boyfriends’ mother worked for an infectious disease doctor and he was taught how to change these bandages for me (my left arm is paralyzed so i couldn’t do it). He put on sterile gloves each time he changed my bandages since his hands were directly touching my open wounds. But, other than that, we slept in the same bed, he bathed me, and we had a sexual relationship just like a normal couple would. He was never infected.

    I can certainly only speak thru my experiences but my boyfriend was just very aware and educated about the type of contact that was okay and when he needed to use extra caution. I too think that your daughter should go with her husband to see the doctor and ask about the risks.

    I have not encountered this infection in about 19 months and my boyfriend has never encountered it.

    Best of luck

  22. sandi says:

    I live in the house with someone that has mrsa. We don’t come in contact with each other at all but we do use the same washing machine, dishes ect. How much more suceptible am I in acquiring the infection than someone that does not live with a mrsa victim.

  23. Steph says:

    Hello Sandi

    I’m sorry, but I actually find your question offensive and therefore I’m not prepared to answer it. I just hope you never have the misfortune to contract MRSA yourself because then you too will have to put up with a lot of ignorance.

    • Tina Marie says:

      Steph,
      Why is it that Sandi’s post is so offensive to you? If all it takes to contract the MRSA virus is for the carrier of that disease to wipe their nose then how would it be safe to have a roomate with MRSA? Obviously any person in their right mind would not want to contract such a disgustingly painful disease. Why would you find her concern offensive?

      • Steph says:

        Tina Marie – Let me ask you this… if you had contracted an MRSA infection, would you like your friends/housemates to treat you like a leper?

        MRSA is not a virus, it is a bacteria.

        MRSA is not a risk to otherwise normal healthy individuals, e.g. relatives, friends. Good standards of personal hygiene, e.g. hand hygiene and normal standards of cleaning in the home will help prevent spread.

      • Knipex says:

        Tina

        May I politely request that you do some research on the topic before making sweeping inaccurate statements.

        As Steph rightly pointed out, MRSA is not a virus it is a bacterial infection.

        It is not a disease, it is an infection. By your definition any infection even a head-cold is a disease.

        Approx 30% (depending on the country) of the population are colonised with MRSA (the vast majority of those in their nasal passages but also in the groin, armpits, chin, etc.) but have never had any ill effects.

        There is a very good chance that you are colonised with MRSA. Does that mean you have a disease ? Does that mean you should be shunned ?

        MRSA is harmless to healthy individuals and in 95% of cases will cause no issues what so ever.

        If you want to avoid any risk of contacting someone or something with MRSA I am afraid you are out of luck. MRSA is carried by dogs, cats, has been found on meat and vegetables. Its relatively common in the environment.

        If you ever enter a hospital (even as a visitor) or a nursing home, or a gym, or a shared bathroom, or for that matter the theater or the cinema, you have been exposed.

        All you have to do is touch a surface with MRSA on it (MRSA can survive on surfaces for months).

        I would be pretty sure that every single person has at some stage in their lives been colonised with MRSA.

        So by your definition, we are all disease ridden and to be avoided.

  24. Amy says:

    Hi Steph,

    I just have a question for you. You mentioned how you had a recurrence with MRSA and had to undergo anther round of antibiotics. Do you ever have minor symptoms of MRSA? You know where it looks like you’ve been bitten by an insect or a spider, but you know you haven’t came in contact with either?

    My daughter had MRSA when she was 1 1/2 years old. She has never had another outbreak where she needed antibiotics again. but she gets these marks on her that look like a mosquito bite or a spider bite. They will be like three to five at a time. It has me questioning. Come on I know it couldn’t be mosquitios and I doubt a spider is going to bite you 3-5 different times. Nobody else in the house seems to get them. When I took her to the doctor before, they shrugged it off as nothing, you know like I was a paranoid mom who didn’t know anything.

    I would appreciate it if you would let me know if you still get this one particular symptom after being MRSA free.

    Amy

    • jen says:

      Hi Amy,

      I was just desperately looking for information on CA-MRSA when I can across this very helpful blog (thank you, Steph).

      I know you posted your comment a long time ago but I had to write you as the circumstance you’ve described is exactly what we have encountered with our almost 4 year old daugther. She had 1 incident of MRSA at 1 1/2 years of age; 3 days ago, she broke out with these red “pimples”/bug bite-looking bumps; i took her to the dr. and i was also shrugged off by the dr who said it was probably just a “contact infection” and to watch them for further development.

      i understand the basics of the facts that are out there on mrsa, but i am still unclear on whether this is going to be something i will have to watch through her childhood. will the risk of developing an “outbreak” reduce as she grows older and stronger? she seems to have a great immune system; i can’t really seem to find answers to many more questions i have – do people see infectious disease dr’s for more answers?

      i’m not panicked by this episode but i thought this was an isolated incident and now wish i could get some real consultation(and, i know recall numerous isolated “bug bites” that never made sense to me) – things like cdc, etc. give some basic information, but they don’t share any real long-term evidence/outcomes regarding children (or adults, really).

      if you have anything else you wish to share (as you are further along with a reoccurence than i am), i would greatly appreciate it. hope you don’t mind this response – over a year later. thank you for your post – i can truly relate. and, i hope you and your family are well in this nasty sick season! Jen

  25. Steph says:

    Hi! Amy

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

    I’m guessing from what you’ve told me that your daughter originally suffered from a CA-MRSA (Community Acquired) infection? What you describe as spider bites certainly fits that picture.

    My infection was HA-MRSA (Hospital Acquired) so it can’t really be compared.

    It’s possible that your daughter remains ‘colonised’ (not infected) with MRSA. This will not harm her as long as she is healthy and well. Many. many people are colonised without realising it and this is probably why your doctor shrugged off your query. The over-prescription of antibiotics was a huge factor in the spread of CA-MRSA and doctors worldwide are now seeing the reality of the problem caused.

    I suggest that you arm yourself with more information about MRSA so that you will be in a better position to air your concerns the next time you visit your doctor. It’s been my experience that doctors respect rather than reject well-informed queries. I wish you the best of the luck.

  26. Amy says:

    Hi Steph,

    Thank you for getting back with me.

    Her MRSA was community acquired. She’s 4 years old now. She’s been healthy since she had the affected area drained and had the correct round of antibiotics. However, it is always in the back of my mind of her getting it again. Maybe I over reacted, but I felt it was better to be safer then sorry seeing how she had it once.

    I will try to stay better informed on MRSA just incase the issue rises again.

    Thank You again for getting back with me.

    Amy

  27. Jewels says:

    Great Blog! So informative and helpful. I appreciate the specific details about MRSA and the personal experiences of both you and your readers. I’ve searched the web far and wide to hear what others are living with so I could feel validated with my own experience {something my health care providers have not been able to offer as of yet!}

    Two years ago I had a large, painful abscess on my abdomen that was drained, swabbed and treated for MRSA. At the same time I had approximately 20 small oozing wounds sprinkled over my body. Over the previous six months I received diagnoses and treatment for a variety of skin ailments, insect bites and Poison Oak/Ivy/Sumac rashes. I was somewhat relieved to finally get a diagnosis and treatment. I had immediate results and my wounds were reduced to small red bumps in a few weeks.

    Unfortunately, over the last two years I’ve had three more treatments of antibiotics to deal with these small “wounds” that never seem to completely go away. At best they are scar-like in appearance and seem to lie dormant for a few weeks or a month… and then one day I’ll notice a strange stiffness in the nearby joint, a tautness in the surrounding skin or a slight bruising feeling around the bump and without fail each will re-emerge as a full infection within a day or so!

    My exasperation stems from the fact that I can not seem to get my care providers to recognize these events as inter-connected! Usually, they chastise me for waiting too long to seek treatment. On a few occasions I’ve attempted to get a jump on it and went in too early and was given some topical ointment and told to stop making a big deal out of a few little red bumps – Of course, I was told I waited too long when I showed up with abscesses a week later! Each time they respond as though this is a new infection – I suspect it is not. Every time it reoccurs I get it at the exact same places…. plus a few new ones. At this rate I’ll be covered head to toe in small, sore, red bumps.

    I’m happy to say that to date no one else in my household has had to deal with it. I’ve been careful to disinfect the shower with bleach after my use if I have an open wound and I use special alcohol gel wipes (from public health) for my hands all the time.

    I’m wondering if anyone here might direct me to some internet resources for more information about LIVING with MRSA – most sites are the same “precautions, diagnosis and treatment” info. but none talk about chronic mrsa.

    Thanks again everyone… Perhaps Connectedness is the real cure for MRSA!

    Jewels

  28. Steph says:

    Jewels – thanks for your kind words.

    I’m sorry to hear your story. I couldn’t agree with you more – there is very little help/talk out there about recurrent MRSA.

    I once had a hospital doc say to me when my MRSA recurred that “it’s no big deal”. It turned out to be a VERY BIG DEAL for me! I’m sure that the silence from docs on recurrent MRSA, is all tied up with a fear of litigation and as a result, patients are left to fend for themselves. It would be so much better if everyone could be frank and open.

    I wish you well.

  29. Catherine says:

    Hi Steph

    coming across your blog on my endless search for answers about MRSA was like hitting the jackpot ;-) I had MRSA (HA) following surgery late 04. I had vancomycin which failed and then was given VAC (vacuum assisted closure) treatment to extract infection and close wound. Thankfully VAC worked. However, my question is about pain. Even though I have had the 3 clear swabs a few year ago the pain, yes has lessened but has not gone completely. The questions that bounce around my brain are: has this been the experience of others? will the pain ever go? why is there pain if I’m now supposedly free of MRSA? I had an MRI scan which was clear. So whats causing the pain? Every doctor I have asked has sidestepped my question. My only thought is that there is no answer, that maybe there has not been enough research into the aftermath of MRSA. Im tired of the pain but I’m also tired of looking for answers. Have you ever heard of others experiencing pain for so long after? I know it sounds awful to say I hope so and I truly don’t mean to sound horrid or offend anyone or wish anyone such pain. I’m just wondering if this is happening to others that have had MRSA.

    thank you

    Catherine

  30. Steph says:

    Hi! Catherine and welcome!

    I’m so pleased to hear that you’ve found my blog useful. It makes writing this blog seem very worthwhile. Thank you!

    I’m not medically qualified (I trained in physiotherapy) so can only comment from my own personal experience.

    You don’t tell me what sort of surgery you had prior to developing MRSA so it’s difficult to be specific. All I can tell you is that surgery by it’s very nature, is invasive and destoys normal tissue as well as diseased tissue. It may well be that the pain you’re experiencing, is post-operative as opposed to post-MRSA.

    I experience a fair amount of pain from the areas of my head which have undergone recurrent surgery and this is due mainly to scar tissue. In fact, the right side of my head responds completely differently to the left side of my head both in good times and when fighting infection – it’s almost like I’m two different people :-) Again, I don’t know enough about the surgery you had to comment but it’s possible that scar tissue could be the cause of your pain.

    Another reason for post-operative pain can be nerve damage i.e. neuralgia when the nerve endings are cut but in theory this sort of pain usually settles within months of surgery. I had a big problem with neuralgia of the scalp after my scalp was opened from ear to ear last year but it gradually settled over the year and has completely gone at this stage. It may be that your pain is an unresolved neuralgia?

    The positive news in your case is that your MRI scan was clear. Take comfort from this even though it doesn’t give an answer to your pain. Chronic pain is very hard to live with so I do sympathise. Do you have a close friend/partner you could talk to about the pain? I find it really helps to have someone who understands my circumstances and is prepared to listen as in reality, the rest of the world doesn’t want to know! Of course, these days I’m lucky enough to have this forum in which to let off steam ;-)

    Anyway, best of luck and I hope my comments will have been of some help to you.

  31. Catherine says:

    Hi Steph
    this is a really helpful site I’ve been reading for hour’s I got a great laugh out of your banana with breakfast story. I can so relate to been in an isolation ward, the boredom and your devilment. I believe that my sense of humour helped me through my MRSA i’ve had friends ask how can you make a joke of it. Well if you don’t laugh you cry. Also your piece about your friend texting you flooded back memories, I was totally deserted by what was supposedly my best friend at the time accept for a couple of phone calls and one visit to the hospital from her during what added up to almost 7mth’s stay for me. The one visit she did make was more of a shopping excursion for her. I soon found out who were my true friends and they are the one’s that still stand by me today 4yr’s on.
    You mention barrier nursing, I’ve never heard this term before. Also during my so called isolation no nurse was ever masked when they would come into my room. They would put on a plastic apron OK, you know the type.. the one that looks like a normal kitchen apron. But then the people giving out the food (food ???? well that’s what they called it:-)) would just breeze in and lob the tray of offal oops mean food and leave, they would not have put on any apron I always got the feeling that they believed if they got in and out fast it would be OK. I’m only sorry I didn’t have the knowledge then I have today about hospital acquired infections. There would have been a lot more questions asked.
    Yeah, I did not say what operation I had it was a full abdominal hysterectomy think my memory effected to :-) neuralgia has crossed my mind as I did have bother with numbness and lost some use of leg movement. But I may as well be talking to the wall when talking to my GP about it, I know it just the shutters coming down because of my condition been linked to MRSA. However life goes on as I know it now and I just get on with it… totally agree with you.. this is a fantastic place to let off steam. I will be popping in and out from now on.

    kind regards

    Catherine

  32. Steph says:

    Catherine

    Lovely to hear you’ve enjoyed browsing around this place. That’s exactly what I like to hear and also, you’re exactly the sort of person this blog was written for. If my experiences help to lighten the load for other patients, then I’m one happy camper :D

    I’m sorry to hear that your MRSA wound infection followed an abdominal hysterectomy. Having been through an abdominal hysterectomy myself, I can well imagine the horror of what you must’ve experienced with a wound that wouldn’t close.

    I laughed to hear about the catering staff delivering your (?) food. The exact same happened when I was in isolation. One girl used rush into my room without ever uttering a word and then I’d hear her coughing as she left the room because I reckon she’d been holding her breath! Barrier nursing is exactly what the term implies – the infection control protocol forms a ‘barrier’ between the patient and nursing/medical staff -well in theory it does but as you and I well know sometimes that barrier is very questionable.

    Please do visit anytime, I’m real chuffed to hear that my story resonates!

  33. Michelle says:

    Hello All….
    It’s been a while since I visited this site. Sadly, I’ve chuckled as well while reading about the unfortunate experiences that you all have encountered regarding various health care providers…….as I remember the same for myself! I was in a brain injury hospital in Atl, Ga for a short time and had to wear a yellow apron looking gown all the time. My family/ visitors also had to put one on when entering my room. All of the staff that worked with me were supposed to wear one as well…….but some did and some didn’t. I think it boils down to education or lack there of regarding MRSA. To this day I get various treatment from nurses/ etc. when I’m in the hospital so I always think the worst. And that is…….I think if someone is not truly educated on the severity of MRSA then that person is not taking the proper precautions to help make sure that I don’t come in contact with it again. So…….I’m probably one of the most annoying patients around. I want to see the nurses/ etc wash their hands before touching me and I politely ask them to do so….in front of me. Some people are understanding and others seem to get frustrated with me but I don’t care…..that person will not have to go thru the MRSA experience with me if I get infected again. I’m not saying that my actions are correct, but it gives me piece of mind while I’m in the hospital!

    Its amazing to me that when I was in high school I had to take various classes like Sewing, wood working, FFA or Transporation. I wish that high school students had to take a class on stuff like building your credit, buying a home, disability ins, 401K’s, and stuff like MRSA……….things that can change your life in a second! I had never heard of MRSA until I had it…..nor had my family.

    About my pain. Well, I have no pain now however, at the time when the MRSA was active…….I was in horrific pain all of the time. I wore a 50mcg Fentynol patch and ate Lorotab 10′s like they were candy. I imagine my pain was so bad because the infection was in my lower leg and every time I walked I put pressure on it….not to mention the various collection of broken bones that I had. I’m lucky that I didn’t become addicted to the pain meds!

    My blog may not be very helpful but this site also gives me a place to vent with people that have had an MRSA experience……..and I feel much better after reading and sharing with you all….!

  34. Steph says:

    Hi! Michelle :D

    Lovely to hear from you again and it’s especially good to hear that you are doing so well after all that you’ve been through.

    I admire you greatly for ‘watching your own back’ when it comes to infection control protocol . I do exactly the same nowadys whenever I find myself in a position where I feel my health could be compromised by the lack of hygiene standards. As you say, most healthcare workers (but not all) are okay with being reminded as long as you ask politely and frankly, I don’t care what anyone thinks any more as they aren’t the ones who have to live with the consequences.

    It gives me a great lift to hear you say that my blog has acted as a forum for you – that’s exactly what it’s intended for and it’s also a real bonus to know that it’s helped you to make sense of your own experience with MRSA.

    I wish you all the best, Michelle – take care.

  35. Linda says:

    Hi I have a question for Jewels which may have already been answered because although I have enjoyed your blog I have not gotten very far past her ccomments. I’m in no way bored but I am currently dealing with MRSA yet again and had surgery two days ago and I am taking pain pills.(Very sleepy) I wanted to clarify that so you take no offense. My question to her if not answered is if she has seen a dermotoligist and had one of the bumps biopsied. I only ask because I have the same sympthoms as her as well as the MRSA Frequently. I had mine biopsied and was diagnosed with EAC- Erythema annular Centrifugum. Treatment of a skin disease if she has one would lesson her bouts with MRSA because she would not be scratching at it leaving potential for more abcess. I found that out after 10 years of EAC and have started to have less bouts with MRSA since the biopsy. Unfortunatly as you may know and I have been told EAC has no real treatment or cure but when treated early I have had great success in avoiding me tearing my skin apart. I am scared for life because all but 1 doctor thought a biopsy was necessary. Now I get tested for things that most 33 year old don’t get tested for as EAC signals trouble in the body.

    Now I have a question about me. Today I went to get my packing changed and complained to the doc that the entire area of my anus and vagina is burning and sore causing me great pain and that it started not 12 hours after the surgery. He looked handsfree, made me do it and declaird the infection has spread. He left the room to verify the culture results and NEVER came back. The nurse came in put gauze and tape on the bed, told ME to dress it, told me to get dressed, handed me my papers and left. They never repacked my would even though they said it needed to be. This pisses me off, I have great insurance and they surely will bill me but yet they never did what THEY told me to come back for. To make matters worse the hydrocodone I was given after the surgery caused my EAC to erupt. I am not allergic but because my immune system is compromised I am having a severe eruption. I asked the doctor to prescribe the very same cream that my dermatologist does in these cases because I am almost out and prompt treatment could halt it from spreading. He refused and refered me to a doctor whom I can’t get in to see for 3 weeks. New patient crap and I just moved her less than a week ago) I feel he is causing me undue pain and suffering because now I risk MANY more abcesses and my average outbreak lasts 4 to 6 months. I am searching for a doc who can take me in the morning but no one so far is willing especially having MRSA. I’m not really sure what my question is I guess I want help and the percocet is making me ramble. Have you every heard of what happened to me today with the doc and nurse or is MRSA worse then they say. Am I wrong in thinking that he SHOULD have given me the skin cream and I even begged for it and was refused. There is no negative interaction between the meds and the creame so on what planet does it make sense to allow me to suffer the pain I will feel for so many months to come. I mean It’s not like I asked the man for narcotics or anything which he actually prescribed. I just wanted some creame that has to be prescribed. I feel like he broke his oath as a doctor to do no harm and am considering a lawyer. Am I over reacting? He refused to treat me for an obvious condition.

    In case you are wondering I am negative for all STD’s and HIV, HEP, Herpies. Everything. I am not currently having sex for the last year and had these checks done at my annual 2 months ago. ALL GOOD. I use only my stuff, have my own bathroom, clean my bedding and towels daily. I use Bactroban, I am hygenic and use hib when I shower. I do all the right things but it keeps happening because of my EAC (I rip my skin off because the itching is so bad and I rub because of the pain the EAC causes me seperate to the MRSA). I guess that above was another question.
    Do you know of anything else to stop the MRSA. ANYTHING, I’ll try anything. I’m sorry I rambled and my thoughts as shown in my writing are so sporatic but I can’t think straight and am going to try to go to bed if the itching ever stops.

  36. Steph says:

    Hello! Linda and welcome.

    Sorry to hear of the awful time you seem to be having. I was interested to read up on EAC and I hope that Jewels too, will get to read your comment as it may well be helpful to her.

    I’m a little confused by your story. While you’ve supplied all the peripheral information, you haven’t clarified the medical details so I can’t really work out what’s going on. I can’t advise you medically but I would advise you to focus on getting your problems sorted. Be confident in yourself, stop looking for someone to blame and instead focus your energies on finding a doctor who can advise you. It’s clear to me that you need reassurance and it appears that so far, you’ve been denied this. Believe me, reassurance is half the battle.

    MRSA is not an easy road to travel. I really hope that things will look up for you soon. Take care.

  37. Michelle says:

    Hi Steph,

    Hope all is well with you ;-)

    I can still say……no MRSA for me. Its been a little over three years since I got it, and around 2.5 years that I’ve been free of it.

    I feel so relieved……..I hope it stays this way.

    Michelle

  38. Steph says:

    Michelle – Hi! Good to hear that you are keeping well.

    I was first infected with MRSA 4 years ago. It recurred several times over the following year but thankfully, I’ve been clear for the last 3 years approx. However, I’m still fighting the aftermath of that chronic infection in my head. In hospital presently with acute osteomyelitis. Thankfully, it’s methicillin sensitive!

  39. Sue says:

    Finally found a site with real people describing their acquired knowledge and experience with MRSA. I am about to receive the results of my culture tomorrow and am certain (based on my research and doctor’s opinion)that the results will be positive. I am braced to hear the impending news.

    I have had experience in the medical field, working admistratively in office environments though I haven’t been in the field for almost 3 years. I know first-hand how random ailments & disease can be but am now a little upset about where I probably picked up this infection.

    Ten days ago I woke up in the early morning hours with (what I thought) were symptoms of a heart attack; chest pain, shortness of breath, elevated BP. Went to ER where EKG looked “pristine”. Went home with a diagnosive of “abdominal pain”; scripts for an anti-nausea med and antacid. In all it was most likely due to my gallbladder flaring up. Three days later I found a “spider bite” looking lesion on my right shoulder. My right shoulder, of all places? I must have had a small sore there upon admission because that’s exactly where the MRSA got its foot in the door. Fortunately I had a good friend who had emergency surgery for a staph infection gone bad this past spring so I know how quickly things can go wrong. Because of her experience, I headed straight to my doctor who proceded to culture the site and put me on a round of a septra med, Mupirocin and Hibiclens as she too believes it’s looking and acting like MRSA. (We are being aggressive since I’m about to leave for vacation in a few days and won’t be near a hospital, clinic, etc.)

    I realize the seriousness of this impending result. My fear is that I’m going to be chasing this thing around like a pile of ants. My husband got aggravated the other day saying I’m going to make it worse with all of my worry. Yet he hasn’t been within 10 feet of me and has purchased all kinds of hand gels, etc. He even kinda freaked when he himself got a new pimple on his face yesterday.

    I can easily see me going into a phobic mode and am already grieving the feeling of normalcy.

  40. Steph says:

    Sue – Hello and welcome.

    Firstly, calm down! You’ve got yourself into a complete state over this and it’s not helping the situation. Even if your culture comes back MRSA + tomorrow, it’s NOT the end of the world.

    You have built up MRSA in your mind, into being the worst possible thing that could happen to anyone. Believe me, it’s NOT. It’s an infection and it’s treatable. Granted, it can be a difficult infection to get rid of but you’re freaking about it and it isn’t helping one bit.

    MRSA has been hyped out of all proportion by people who are scared and ignorant about it. Your over-the-top reaction to a possible skin infection, is merely adding to that hype. I can certainly sense that you are scared and in need of reassurance. I suggest you go back to your doctor and tackle your concerns. I hope things work out well for you.

  41. Ellie says:

    Last year my husband had an abcess that WE thought might be staph (never cultured, doctors said it could be any number of things- probably a spider bite. they gave him e-mycin and sent him home). He had several more of these, and same thing- e-mycin plus pain meds. WE told them we thought it might be MRSA- I was told I’d been watching too much TV. Then he spiked a fever of 103 and developed severe back pain, so we went to the ER- he was told strained muscle, given Vicodin, treated and streeted once again. He began to vomit, fever went to 104 and I called back, afraid maybe it was meningitis- we were ignored again, so I called the family doctor who said it was stomach flu. Not once did anyone do a culture of the abcesses or any blood work. Probably bc we had no insurance- just my opinion.

    Finally, on our next ER visit, they did some blood work- white count was off the charts and he was admitted, and by that time had systemic bacteremia with pockets of infection in the lungs, kidneys, linging of the heart and around the spine. He spent 4 months in ICU on vancomycin & levelin, then rifampicin, and finally the linezolid seemed to do some good. He was released unable to walk or get out of bed.

    Readmitted for surgery because his spine had been so ravaged by the infection, and had to have several vertebrae replaced with metal parts, and may be disabled for the rest of his life. This whole thing ended last year in October. Now, he’s complaining of back pain, vomiting, and low grade temp. And we’re getting the runaround AGAIN. He was helping a friend work on a car yesterday, and strained his back, probably. OK fine, but why the other symptoms? We’re again being told stomach flu/gastroenteritis.

    My question is could there be a recurrence of the MRSA after all this time? Or could the dr. be right that it’s a coincidence, stomach flu and an injury? We can’t realy go around seeking second and third opinions as nearest medical facilities are 40-50 miles away. We have no money left and no insurance, and we’ve pretty much lost everything in the year since this whole thing started. I don’t know anymore what to do.

  42. Ellie says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention! When we finally got an infectious disease doctor, yes it was MRSA.

  43. Steph says:

    Ellie – Hello and welcome to this blog.

    I’m sorry to read of your husband’s awful experience and the knock-on effect it’s obviously had on both your lives.

    My advice to you is simple. You and your husband need to learn how to take responsibility for your own health. It seems to me that when you consult a doctor, you don’t attach enough importance to your own concerns. You need to learn how to work ‘with’ rather than ‘against’ doctors. Personally, I’ve always found that doctors give you more respect when you show an interest in how your case is managed. Believe in yourself and in what your instincts are telling you. If you’re not happy with what you’re hearing, voice your concerns in a non-confrontational manner. Make sure to ask questions until you have been reassured. Otherwise, I’m afraid doctors will continue to take the easy route and you’ll continue to feel you’re getting the runaround!

    In answer to your question about a recurrence of MRSA … my response is ‘yes’, MRSA can recur. In light of your husband’s previous medical history, you have good reason to be concerned. A simple blood test would be able to clarify the seriousness of his condition.

    I wish you the best of luck and hope life looks up again soon for you both.

  44. Lisa says:

    My daughter was diagnosed with MRSA after an abcess on her eyelid was cultured. She was treated with antibiotics, they called to tell me she tested + for MRSA but did not give us further direction or info on what this meant. Now, 6-9 months later she has developed bumps in her armpits that appear to be boils, size ranging from pea to marble size – both armpits. These bumps do not come to a head like a boil would and some are decreasing in size while others are developing in the other armpit. We have a referral to a surgeon from the pediatrician and were told to TELL THE SURGEON SHE TESTED + for MRSA. WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN – Can MRSA effect the lymph system – am I being paranoid?

  45. Lisa says:

    I forgot to mention that my daughter is 12 years old.

  46. Steph says:

    Hi! Lisa

    From what you describe, it sounds as if your daughter may have developed ‘Community Acquired MRSA’ (CA-MRSA). I’m not familiar with this type of MRSA as here in Ireland, our problem is ‘Health Care Associated MRSA’ i.e. hospital acquired infections (HCAI).

    You are not being paranoid. What you need to do now is to arm yourself with information about CA-MRSA so that when you see the surgeon, you will be able to elicit answers to your questions.

    Here is a link to a fact sheet which addresses some frequently asked questions about CA-MRSA…

    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_MRSA_ca_public.html

    I hope this is of help to you.

  47. Katya says:

    Hello,
    I was first diagnosed with MRSA on my stomach, leg armpits, and face 9 months ago. Since then i have had MRSA 5 times. I am a college student and in close contact with others, so my concerns are not only for myself but those around me. I have visited many dermatologists, and the best advice i get is to wash my hands, stay clean, and use antibacterial soap. I am usually sent home with no new information, only to get MRSA again. I am not like the countless examples above. I am perfectly healthy, i exercise, i eat well, and live a balanced lifestyle. Its extremely difficult to have doctor’s regurgitate the same useless information back to me. I’m very concerned about taking so many antibiotics. Is there anything else i can do?

  48. Steph says:

    Katya – I can’t really help you, I’m afraid. What you describe sounds very like community acquired infection. I am not familiar with this as my personal experience has been only with hospital acquired MRSA infection.

    The only clue as to the source of your recurring infections, is your mention of ‘exercising’. Do you attend a gym? It’s possible that cross-contamination is occurring as a result of shared gym equipment. If you use a gym, it might be worth giving it up for a while to see if there is any improvement in your skin condition. You could concentrate on taking outdoor exercise instead. Hope this is in some way helpful.

  49. sophie says:

    i have mrsa now and im 5 mos pregnant. im so scared. ive always been a very clean individual and dont know how this could have happened. im scared to death that itll affect my child before birth bc my doctor will not put me on any antibiotics. ive been cut and drained and they say thats 90% curable that way but its such a stong strain of staph and i have a feeling itll be back most likely. im scared to death and feel like i just found out that i have HIV or something. so now im a carrier for life? Thats the most devastating thing ive heard but i guess its good to know.

  50. Knipex says:

    Sophie.

    Firstly there is absolutely no need to be scared.

    Acquiring MRSA has nothing to do with personal hygiene.

    It is not a life sentence, you will not be a “carrier” for life. Its a skin infection or soft tissue infection just like many many others. You are no more a carrier than anyone who has ever had an infected cut, our boil, or ingrown toe nail, or ear piercing.

    It is estimated that up to 30% of the population are colonised with MRSA at any time, with no ill effects. You were unlucky in that you just happened to have a wound which it could access and were run down because of your pregnancy. Your doctor is 100% correct in that it will most likely heal with no need for an antibiotic.

    MRSA is not a particularly strong version of Staph, it IS staph that just happens to be resistant to a particular type of antibiotic. Most people with a surface soft tissue MRSA infection never need an antibiotic.

    In Steph’s case she had MRSA at a surgical site that entered her body and resulted in soft tissue and bone infection inside the body. Yours is on the surface and can be treated with topical disinfectants and draining.

    Dont worry, relax, take care of your self and the baby.

    • Steph says:

      Knipex

      Thank you for giving such an excellent response to Sophie, in my absence. It’s lovely to come back from holiday and find that you’ve been keeping an eye out for any questions on my blog re MRSA. I treasure your input. Thanks! :D

      I agree with everything you’ve said to Sophie and I hope that she has been reassured by your sound advice. In my opinion, a course of (systemic) antibiotics would pose more of a risk to the pregnancy than any soft tissue/skin infection – including an MRSA one! I would also like to point out that my MRSA infection was hospital acquired following bone surgery which left me predisposed to infection.

      Sophie’s MRSA was most likely community acquired and occurred as a result of being immuno-compromised due to pregnancy. Indeed, I suffered greatly with sinus infections throughout each of my pregnancies and I was always advised that it was because my immunity had been slightly altered by pregnancy.

      I honestly believe that there’s no need for Sophie to be concerned about that infection. I wish her well for the rest of her pregnancy.

  51. dd says:

    About 5 years ago, I was hospitalized for a MRSA infection that got into my system through an abraded area inside my nose. My nose got really swelled up and the infection spread into my cheeks and I developed cellulitis. It was a scary experience. I was in the hospital about a week where they bombarded me with iv antibiotics. Now, my 84 year old dad is in the hospital with a UTI and they suspect he has a MRSA infection in the scrotum area. He needs a lot of assistance getting around, bathing, dressing, etc… and I am supposed to go help my mother take care of him for a couple of weeks, when he gets out of the hospital ( I live 7 hours away.) I am very afraid of getting MRSA again as it was life threatening before and I feel lucky to have beaten it once. The place inside my nose has never completely healed up-the ENT says it has a real thin area of the liniing and might need “patching” someday but not yet. I have to use an antibiotic ointment in my nostrils often to keep it from drying out, as it bleeds easily when that happens. What should I do? I also have a nasal pollop, but the doc says to put the surgery off until it just has to be done considering my history. Help! Thanks.

    • Knipex says:

      dd.

      To be brutally honest… Depending on who you listen to and the statistic you read anything from 5 to 30% of the people you meet every day are either infected or colonised with MRSA. The money in your wallet has a strong possibility of being contaminated with MRSA. If you visit a hospital you have a strong chance of meeting someone colonised or infected with MRSA. The chances are even higher if you visit a nursing home…

      Community Acquired MRSA is a significant issue now so its not just hospitals.

      Follow some basic guidelines, Wash your hands regularly, particularly after contact with someone who has MRSA, don’t touch your nose without first washing your hands, use the ointment as prescribed by your doctor and you will be fine.

      Having MRSA does not make someone a Typhoid Mary, If you follow the doctors advice and watch hand hygiene there is minimal risk to you or any person caring for yoru father.

      As I said previously many people have or are colonised with MRSA and don’t even know it so you could be meeting people with MRSA every day.

      I understand your fear.. I really do BUT follow the advice and you will be fine.

      • Steph says:

        Knipex

        A million thanks for replying on my behalf. I agree with everything you’ve said to ‘dd’. You’ve given really sound advice and I don’t think anything further needs to be added.

        The only thing I would say to ‘dd’ is… MRSA infection can and does recur but it’s not the end of the world. If you’re otherwise healthy, MRSA is very treatable. I’m still here as living proof!

  52. dd says:

    I appreciate the advice. I was pretty concerned about being around it. I did not find out until today that there were some swollen areas on my father that had to be lanced and there were huge amounts of pus involved.. He is still in the hospital being treated with vancomycin. I am guessing that he won’t be out of the hospital until it is cleared up, so it should be pretty safe to help out after that, right?

  53. Lisa says:

    I had a life-threatening bout with MRSA in September 2006. I acquired it at a YMCA in Tempe, AZ. The neighbor’s dog jumped on my bare leg & scratched a couple layers of skin off the skin, but not enough to cause it to bleed. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but then went to the Y to work out.

    When I knelt on the workout bench, I came into contact with the MRSA (Since then I’ve learned to spray BEFORE as well as after.). I worked out hard for 2 hours. Within 4 hours, I was home, writhing in pain (I thought from the workout.), pitching fevers & generally out of it.

    Within 6 hours the area was red & hot & I went to the ER. They said it was either dermatitis or cellulitis. I went home. The next day I went to my doctor. He recognized it was a staph & gave me an IV of Vancomycin, telling me to return the following morning. When I returned, he was shocked to discover that the red swirls of infection had spread to the groin- even with a dose of vanco.

    I was given another IV of vanco & sent to the hospital. I was there 8 days on vancomycin & I don’t remember what else. They put me on morphine while I was waiting for a room. I think this was caught just before I went septic. There were a lot of times that I was out of it because of the morphine. My second night there, the nurse came in to take my vitals & my temp was 103.4 & my BP was 81/40. Apparently they thought I was crashing. I just remember 4 of them were suddenly in there, whipping the blankets (All 6!) off of me which bothered me because I finally felt WARM instead of freezing. I don’t know what they shot into my IV, but because of the morphine, I drifted back to sleep.

    Waking about 1.5 hours later, I disocvered I & the bed were soaked- the fever was broken. I got better as I insisted on them taking me off the morphine, though I had horrible severe headaches & when I asked for pain relief they kept pushing the morphine so I just had to suck it up. I made myself walk everyday. They started talking about releasing me on day 6 but they needed to arrange for a PICC line to deliver the vanco after I was discharged.

    On day 8, I finally said I was leaving, without the PICC line, in less than 2 hours. They finally moved & the very crabby PICC line lady came in & ran the line from my arm towards my heart.

    I had a nurse stop in at the house a few times to check on me & the PICC, show me how to do stuff, etc. I had to give myself a vanco power ball every 12 hours for 7 days. Then they left the PICC line in for another 5 days- “Just in case.”

    I consider myself blessed to be alive. My twin girls were just 3 years old at the time & I just wanted to be home with them again. I have not had a recurrance, though I have been told by a few people in the medical field that sometimes it happens, for unknown reasons. That the MRSA is only killed by the vanco when it’s active & the cells that are inactive aren’t killed & sometimes they reactivate years later for no reason. I think there’s a lot they just don’t know.

    My leg that was affected is permanently damaged, cosmetically. It is 2″ bigger around than the other, has broken spider veins, is chronically swollen on the shin & still has the 3.5″ scar on the back where it bubbled a reddish purple for some unknown reason (It entered in the front.). I could probably get it cosmetically corrected, but when I found out that some people have lost limbs & one man was actually CUT IN HALF (Hemi something-a-rather.) to save his life from MRSA- I decided I was blessed indeed. My leg is fully functional.

    I don’t live my life worrying or thinking that it might come back. I assume it won’t. If it does- I just hope I notice it before it gets into my lymph nodes.

    Good luck & good health to you!

    - Lisa

    • Steph says:

      Hi Lisa

      Sorry to hear about your nasty experience of MRSA. I like your positive attitude regarding recurrence. Don’t worry about it… count your lucky stars!

      As regards how/where you picked up MRSA… MRSA is everywhere so don’t worry about using disinfectant sprays. If you get a skin lesion (cut), clean it with an antiseptic wipe and keep it covered with a sterile dressing (sticking plaster) until the skin has healed over.

      I think indoor gyms are unhealthy places at the best of times. I recommend outdoor exercise instead.

      Take care
      Steph

  54. I had2 surgeries due to mrsa abcesses on hernia surgeries.Approximately 9-10 months later I began having mrsa abcesses again.BOTH TIMES WERE WITHIN 2WEEKS OF GETTING A FLU VACCINE! I did research and found cases showing that the flu vaccine can weaken or destroy the body’s natural defense system that can keep mrsa in check! No more flu vaccines and I haven’t had another abcess since- in over 5 years!

    • Steph says:

      Hi Judy

      I can’t comment re the flu vaccine and MRSA as I’ve never heard of any link between the two. However, I admire you for becoming proactive in your fight against MRSA. I’m a huge believer in patients becoming informed and engaged in their medical care to best effect outcome!

      Regards, Steph

  55. amber says:

    My daughter is 2 years old,she got red bumps on her buttocks last month. The doctor swabbed her nose and it came back positive for MRSA. He didn’t test the bumps which never grew,swelled,or drained pus. She was put on ointment. The bumps cleared up. But now a month later they have come back the same way in the same place. He didn’t test her again just gave her the same ointment and sent us home. Do I disinfect my house?? Do I need a second opinion?? Im so confused.

    • Steph says:

      Hi Amber

      If you’re confused, I suggest you read all the comments (above) in response to my post. Pay particular attention to the ones written by ‘Knipex’ as he gives all the answers to your questions.

      Be informed, not anxious.

  56. becky says:

    I had gotten mrsa about 5 years ago, and I haven’t had any issues since. Until the other day, I had what I thought was a boil but now it has gotten much bigger and painful to sit down. When I had gotten it before I was staying at a friends house and she worked in a Nursing home, and now where I stay my friend works in a nursing home. Could it just a coincidence, or could I have held it in my body for that long? Or could I be succeptable to getting it beng around health care workers, especially since I have already had it? I’m unsure if what is going on right now is mrsa, but it feels very similar to the pain I had before, and was in the same area as last time.

    • Steph says:

      Becky

      MRSA is everywhere so don’t worry about where/when you picked it up. If you’re otherwise well (no recent surgery etc.), an MRSA infection is usually very treatable with antibiotics.

      If you’re worried about your infection, then go see your doctor and he/she’ll be able to prescribe you antibiotics as required.

      I hope you get it sorted.

  57. ALAN STEIN says:

    Steph – Found this site and am up to 9/14/2009 and will go back and read all Q&A but I am anxious to ask my question. On 1/30 I was admitted to hospital with infection on knee which turned out to be MRSA. After a few IVs of Vancomycin in the hospital I opted for Home Care and had 20 more IVs. I then visited Infectious disease MD and he checked results of a recent blood workup and put me back on Vanco for six more treatments. The next blood tests were good and he said I was AOK. About a month later I had an eye infection and I went to an Ophthalmologist and he did a culture and said it was MRSA and gave me drops and an antibiotic and after a couple of weeks I went back and he dismissed me as infection was completely cleared up. My question is how long do I wait to go back to my infectious disease MS to have him do a nasal culture to tell me if I am colonized. If test is positive should I mention nasal ointment (Bactroban) mentioned by one of your blog followers. Is it true, that if you take 3 nasal swabs and they each come back negative than you are at least MRSA free FOR THE MOMENT. This is a very nerve wracking infection as one does not want to pass it on to their spouse or friends. Also, afraid to go on a cruise in case I get a return of the infection. Like other posters, I still feel funny about my original knee infection as I see spots where pus came out of leg and skin feels a bit different than the other knee. Should I require future surgery it sounds as though it would be wise to mention that I had MRSA at one time even though I haven’t had a recurrence or my last blood tests showed negative results. Thank you in advance for whatever help you can give me and for all the time you have taken helping others following your blog. Al

    • Steph says:

      Cheers! Alan

      Sorry for delay in replying. I’m only catching up now having been away for a few days.

      I’ll endeavour to answer your query tonight when I’ve more time to give to it.

      Don’t worry, I’ll be back!
      Steph

      • Steph says:

        Alan – I’m back to you as promised.

        It’s hard for me to comment on your case as it sounds like your MRSA infection was community-acquired. I’m only familiar with the treatment of hospital-acquired infection.

        The way I see it and I could be wrong… is that your eye infection was MRSA+ because you remained ‘colonised’ with MRSA despite the treatment you received for the MRSA infection in your knee.

        I suggest you google ‘MRSA de-colonisation’ for information on how to get rid of the bacteria from your skin, nasal passages etc. Usually, the pro-active method is to use a prescribed body wash, shampoo etc. plus application of Bactroban cream/ointment applied to the nasal passages (as prescribed) over a period of time.

        However, this de-colonisation process is not always recommended following an MRSA+ infection. It’s been my experience that the body can naturally rid itself of MRSA colonisation once the infection has been adequately treated with antibiotics.

        As regards nasal swabs… in Ireland, the protocol is to achieve 3 (in succession) negative nasal and groin swabs before you are considered clear of MRSA colonisation.

        It’s well worthwhile getting confirmation of MRSA clearance as it means that your hospital chart will no longer be labelled MRSA+ should you be admitted to hospital unexpectedly.

        As you now have a previous history of MRSA infection, you will probably be swabbed on any future admissions to hospital, to confirm that you are no longer colonised. This is in your self-interest should you require surgery… as well as to protect vulnerable patients within the hospital. Some hospitals have a policy of MRSA testing prior to elective admission.

        Don’t worry too much about passing on MRSA colonisation to friends and family. Colonisation will not harm them if they are otherwise well and do not have an open wound.

        And remember, MRSA is everywhere so anyone can pick it up anytime.

        I hope this answers some of your questions.

        Regards,
        Steph

      • ALAN STEIN says:

        Thanks Stephanie. It’s good to know that I won’t pass MRSA on to my friends so long as I do not have an active infection when we socialize. Is there a recommended waiting period after one gets confirmation that an infection has been properly treated and when one starts the first of the three nasal swabs to see if the colonization is no longer present?.

  58. Steph says:

    Alan

    I’m not aware of any recommended waiting period.

    I was started on a de-colonisation process (medicated shampoo, body wash, Bactroban) while still undergoing in-patient treatment in an MRSA isolation unit. Having achieved 3 consecutive clear swabs over a period of weeks, I was allowed to be moved out of the isolation unit, to continue my treatment for osteomyelitis in a single room.

    As regards your friends… MRSA is harmless to healthy individuals and in 95% of cases will cause no issues what so ever.

    I choose to avoid hospital visiting when I know I’m carrying MRSA (colonised) as it does potentially pose a risk to post-operative patients/those in intensive care/anyone who is immuno-compromised. Having said that, hospitals and nursing homes are rife with MRSA so if you have the choice, they are best avoided.

    As Knipex says above… “Having MRSA does not make someone a Typhoid Mary. If you follow the doctors advice and watch hand hygiene, there is minimal risk to you or anyone you’re in contact with”

    Hope this helps.
    Steph

  59. ALAN STEIN says:

    Steph

    Going to get my first nasal swab this week and hopefully it will be negative. If so, I will go for two additional swabs and with Gods grace they too will be negative. If any are positive, I will get the Bactroban and start that plus I will switch my shampoo to one that is medicated. I already use anti-bacterial soap. Once again, thanks for all your informative posts.

    Al

  60. ALAN STEIN says:

    Steph

    Both my wife and I tested positive with the use of nasal swabs. Tomorrow we start a regimen of Bactroban,, Hibiclens showers and Perigard gargle. After 5 days we go back for another swab. This blog has been enlightening and reassuring. Thanks for your effort.

    This might be a mini duplicate posting but there is nothing wrong in saying thank you twice.

    Regards from the USA

    • Steph says:

      Hi Alan

      Sorry to hear that.

      Remember, though, MRSA is everywhere so the important thing now is to obtain clearance so that you can put this episode behind you… and you sound like you’re doing all the right things.

      Thank you for the kind comment re my blog.

      Best of luck!
      Steph

  61. Elsa says:

    I am new to all this. I had MRSA cellulitis 2 months ago. I was in the hospital for 3 days and released with oral antibiotics. ID Doctor did not fill me in about what MRSA was all about. Starting searching the internet after being released and fell into a deep depression after reading some of the struggles some folks are dealing with. I am on meds for depression. I need dental work done, cavities and possibly a root canal. I do not know if I am colonised. Doctor does not feel it is necessary at this point, unless I have a recurrence. I am afraid to have the dental work done. Do I need to tell my dentist I had MRSA. Should I take precautions prior to dental work?

  62. Elsa says:

    Forgot to mention that skin is fully healed.

    • Steph says:

      Hi Elsa

      Sorry to hear of your upset. I’m not medically qualified so I cannot advise on your individual case.

      What I can say however is that you should not believe everything you read on the internet. Make a list of any worries you have around your MRSA experience and discuss them with your own doctor.

      Try to be positive about your situation. Your MRSA cellulitis responded well to antibiotic treatment and the skin has healed well. That’s all good news.

      Best of luck,
      Steph

      • ALAN STEIN says:

        Mikayla

        In February I had what I thought was an ant bite on my knee and scratched it. In a matter of days the infection spread over the whole of my knee and my doctor sent me to the ER immediately. I spent 2 days receiving Vancomycin IVs twice daily. Due the cost at the hospital I opted for home health care and had visits for the next 9 days. When my nurse told me my infection appeared clear I was told to see an infectious disease doctor and after seeing my blood test results suggested 6 more doses of the IV after which he said my new test showed I no longer had the infection. About months later I went to my primary care physician and had a nasal swab and it came back negative. I have had no further outbreaks.

        What I took away from this experience it is super important to wash your hands with antibiotic soap often during each day. I also pay special attention to the underarms and any other areas of the body where there is a tendency for sweat to build up eg. crotch.

        Like you I spent many hours on the internet reading up on MRSA and while there was a lot of information it was also depressing and eventally I stopped reading this stuff. My primary care MD made it clear to me that the MRSA is in 70% of medical personnel, especially those who work in hospitals and they go to work every day and in most instances the infection never rises to the surface. So pay attention to your cleanliness and don’t pick on your skin when you see a bite etc.

        Al

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