MRSA has been increasing exponentially the last few years. While many times able to be treated on an outpatient basis, worst-case MRSA infections can eat you alive and even take your life…protect yourself and others at work, at home, and at the gym as much as possible with PREVENTION!What is MRSA? Definition & History: (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a specific type of bacterial “staph” infection that is resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics like methicillin (one of the strongest antibiotics) and other less powerful antibiotics.• MRSA is NOT a disease; it is bacteria highly resistant to antibiotics. MRSA first developed during the 1950s and has steadily been increasing in occurrence and especially the last few years. Since the mid 1990s, Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Texas has seen child MRSA infections increase from a few per year to nearly 500 by 2003. About 90% of Driscoll’s MRSA cases were in kids with no known risk factors; most of these infections appeared as simple localized boils that were treated on an outpatient basis; however, some needed hospitalization. Professional and collegiate sport teams have also experienced significant MRSA infections. MRSA can infect in “clusters” as with a sport team, family, or work population. MRSA has also infected domestic pets like cats and dogs along with horses. Proper hygiene is essential for prevention of MRSA with ALL populations whether clinical, work, or at home!• Staph Bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus): Commonly carried bacteria found on skin or nose that can cause infection in skin, wounds, blood, and can cause pneumonia. Staph infections are one of the most common causes of skin infection in the United States. About 10-40% of the population carries staph without infection primarily in nasal passages (along with other mucous membrane sites), and about 1-5% carries MRSA. Most staph skin infections are minor and can be treated without antibiotics. People that carry Staph or MRSA but are not infecting their own bodies are “colonized.” The colonized person can transmit staph to another person. • Bacteria: Single-cell microorganisms that help decay and decompose organic matter. Bacteria reproduction cycles can be measured in minutes compared to months and years with mammals. Bacteria are important to existence. Many forms of bacteria are “healthy” for our bodies; unfortunately, MRSA is NOT one of them! “Friendly” bacteria found in the gut and yogurt aid digestion (bifidobacteria). There are also friendly bacteria in cheese, wine, and many other foods, so not all bacteria are bad. 4MRSA Superbugs: What Every BODY Needs To Know! (Ron Jones, MS, ACSM Health/Fitness Instructor, Corporate Wellcoach)• Food: MRSA can be spread through a food-borne outbreak. Food handlers should be required to report ALL skin infections no matter how minor. No special requirements are indicated for eating utensils—normal protocols for detergent use and decontamination of eating and cooking utensils are sufficient. Pathology: CA-MRSA’s Process of Destruction At least “one” major factor contributing to the survival and spread of CA-MRSA is its ability to literally “explode” immune cells. Upon infection, CA-MRSA secretes a peptide compound called phenol-soluable modulin (PSM) that produces inflammation. The inflammation attracts immune system cells called neutrophils. The peptide compound destroys the neutrophil cell wall through a process called lysis. The destruction of neutrophils renders the body incapable of efficiently fighting off infection which allows CA-MRSA to spread rapidly with very little resistance. What does MRSA look like? Staph bacteria including MRSA can cause painful skin infections resembling a pimple, insect bite, furuncle, or boil. These infections can be red, swollen, and have pus or drainage.• Many initial MRSA infections are mistaken for spider bites. Pus is formed by white blood cells that rush in to kill bacteria and enlarge blood vessels—a way for the body to purify infection. Note that all MRSA infections do not advance to the point of needing clinical hospitalization or medical drainage; however, MRSA can very well progress to “surgical wound” infections, bloodstream infections, and can even cause pneumonia. • Flesh-Eating Bacteria (necrotizing fasciitis): The worst-case scenario for MRSA is the rare, but horrific, flesh-eating bacteria that can consume up to a foot of flesh in 1-2 hours! This condition MUST HAVE IMMEDIATE medical attention!*Note: Most necrotizing fasciitis cases are caused by “strep” infections rather than “staph” infections like MRSA. Emergency room professionals have cited that flesh-eating bacteria consumes flesh practically fast enough to see with the naked eye as the patient is literally being “eaten alive” by bacteria!