Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is an infection-carrying bacterium that can only be prevented by non-exposure and is resistant to many antibiotics including amoxicillin, oxacillin, and penicillin. MRSA typically reveals itself in the form of infections of the skin and, though most often mild, it can create sores and boils. Its symptoms are greatly dependent upon where the victim is infected it can take on a more serious form of skin infection in some cases and may even infect surgical wounds, the urinary tract, and the bloodstream.
The majority of MRSA infections are not serious, however, some can be life-threatening and because it is so difficult to treat, MRSA incites an alarming public response and is sometimes called a “super bug.” The distinguishing characteristic of the infection is its strength. At one time, it could be treated with methicillin which was once an effective treatment against staphylococci but today this is not the case. The infection’s composition has morphed over its lifespan and has now become resistant to the treatment of most antibiotics.
College athletes who contract the infection also have an increased likelihood of being contagious carriers of the bug. Dr. Natalia Jimenez-Truque of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, participated in the first research study to specifically observe college athletes in order to identify their potential to contract and spread the infection. The study selected 377 varsity athletes from the University involved in playing a variety of sports, 224 of them were contact sport athlete and played sports such as basketball, soccer, and football.
The study was conducted over a span of two years and found that contact sport athletes acquired the infection at a rate of almost twice that of the non-contact sport players. Dr. Jimenez-Truque credited this finding to the fact that those who play contact sports have more skin-to-skin interactions with others and, therefore, more often procure cuts and scrapes which allow an entry point for the infection to come into the body.
Dr. James A. McKinnell of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute gave a presentation this week during IDWeek 2014, an infectious disease conference held in Philadelphia, PA. He presented the findings of his research team which calculated the potential impact that universal MRSA screenings could have in reducing the spread of infection and hospital-induced inception of the infection. Dr. McKinnell said that idea of implementing the screenings is becoming a more acceptable concept for the prevention of disease, but no provisions have been made for how hospitals can actually afford to conduct the screenings.
“Such a program would be very expensive,” Dr. McKinnell said. In the examination of how to realistically implement the strategy, researchers determined that it will cost the hospital $103,000 per 10,000 patients in order to conduct the traditional nasal test screening. More extensive methods of testing were considered, all of which resulted in increased cost. Dr. McKinnell’s research concluded that, although implementing preventative policies would aid in a reduction of spreading of the MRSA infection, the cost of implementing the program would greatly exceed the savings that the hospital would incur. Thus continuing to seek alternative ways of how to prevent the spread of MRSA infections can more beneficially be what future research studies focus their attention upon.
by Bridgette Bryant
Photo by mmtzjr69out – Flickr License