LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Health officials say Community-Acquired MRSA infections have been on a dramatic rise in the United States - and they're posing a major public health threat to younger populations.
Recent studies and news have shined a spotlight on the drug-resistant bacteria called MRSA. It was once mostly found in hospitals where patients' immune systems are down, but has recently popped up among healthy people in the community. Lake Charles Memorial Hospital Infection Preventionist Belinda Fitzgerald says, "We've seen a 14 percent increase in MRSA in the community as well as nationally - that's why we're doing the MRSA initiatives and really trying to get it under control."
Fitzgerald says the majority of Community-Acquired MRSA cases are skin infections. "You may just think that you have a bug bite, but in a couple of days you look like you have a huge boil or a pimple," says Fitgerald.
MRSA infections have increased exponentially in settings where people share closer quarters and more skin-to-skin contact. "Athletic teams, in schools, basically in the community," says Fitzgerald, "it just needs a way to get in."
Emergency physician, Dr. Jon Gray says the main reason we're dealing with MRSA is because over the years antibiotics were over-prescribed and the staph bug learned how to become resistant to the antibiotics that kill it. "If physicians over-prescribe antibiotics for non-bacterial infections over a period of years and decades," says Dr. Gray, "bacteria or viruses do develop resistances."
MRSA can be treated most of the time by draining the wound and taking a full dosage of antibiotics. As long as the wound is properly covered, the patient can go to school or work. It's the drainage or pus that's infectious.
Both Fitzgerald and Dr. Gray say that early treatment is key in making sure the staph does not enter the blood stream, which could have deadly consequences.