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MRSA & VRE - Superbugs

Microbecide™ Special Report

MRSA & VRE - Superbugs

Eliminate MRSA & VREMRSA & VRE - Superbugs Staphylococcus aureus bacteria — or "staph" is a major cause of infection. Decades ago a strain of staph emerged in hospitals that was resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it. Known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), it was one of the first bacterial resistant superbugs to develop resistance to all but the most powerful drugs. The potent antibiotic vancomycin (Vancocin) was a reliable last defense against severe infections caused by staphylococcus and enterococcus bacteria. But superbugs have figured out how to resist even vancomycin. A strain of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) first appeared in the late 1980s and has thrived ever since. Scientists now worry that VRE not only will continue to multiply but will share its genetic secrets for survival with other bacteria.

Consequences of Bacterial Resistance

When more and more bacteria become resistant to first-line treatments, the consequences are severe. Illnesses last longer, and the risk of complications and death increases. In the United States alone, nearly 100,000 people die each year from infections they contract in the hospital, often because the bacteria that cause hospital-acquired infections are resistant to disinfectants and antibiotics. The inability to eliminate an infectious microorganism or treat a particular infection leads to longer periods in which a person is contagious and able to spread the resistant strains to others. Staph bacteria are normally found on the skin or in the nose of about one-third of the population. Staph bacteria are generally harmless unless they enter the body through a cut or other wound, and even then they often cause only minor skin problems in healthy people. But in older adults, young children and people who are ill or have weakened immune systems, ordinary staph infections can cause serious illness. In the last decade, a type of MRSA began showing up in the wider community. Today, those forms of staph, hospital acquired MRSA and community-associated MRSA, or HA-MRSA and CA-MRSA, are responsible for many serious skin and soft tissue infections and for a serious form of pneumonia.


Hospitals are fighting back against MRSA infection by using surveillance systems that track bacterial outbreaks and by investing in products such as silver-coated catheters, silver impregnated gowns and gloves and ionic silver complexed disinfectants. Still, the best way to prevent the spread of germs is for health care workers to wash their hands frequently, properly disinfect hospital surfaces and to take other precautions such as wearing a mask when working with people with weakened immune systems. What you can do in the hospital Here's what you can do to protect yourself, family members or friends from hospital-acquired infections.
  • Ask all hospital staff to wash their hands and use a hand sanitizer (such as Microbecide Silver Ion Complex) before touching you — every time.
  • Wash your own hands frequently and use a hand santizier/disinfectant.
  • Make sure that intravenous tubes and catheters are inserted under sterile conditions, for example, the person inserting them wears a mask and sterilizes your skin first.
What you can do in your community Protecting yourself from MRSA in your community — which might be just about anywhere — may seem daunting, but these common-sense precautions can help reduce your risk:
  • Wash your hands. Careful hand washing remains your best defense against germs. Scrub hands briskly for at least 15 seconds, then dry them with a disposable towel and use another towel to turn off the faucet.
  • Carry a Pocker or Purse Size Microbecide Silver Ion Complex for times when you don't have access to soap and water.
  • Keep personal items personal. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, sheets, razors, clothing and athletic equipment. MRSA spreads on contaminated objects as well as through direct contact.
  • Keep wounds covered. Keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered with sterile, dry bandages until they heal. The pus from infected sores may contain MRSA, and keeping wounds covered will help keep the bacteria from spreading.
  • Shower after athletic games or practices. Shower immediately after each game or practice. Use soap and water. Don't share towels.
  • Sit out athletic games or practices if you have a concerning infection. If you have a wound that's draining or appears infected — for example is red, swollen, warm to the touch or tender — consider sitting out athletic games or practices until the wound has healed.
  • Sanitize linens. If you have a cut or sore, wash towels and bed linens in a washing machine set to the "hot" water setting (with added bleach, if possible) and dry them in a hot dryer.
  • Wash gym and athletic clothes after each wearing. Disinfect and deodorize gym shoes and workout suits with Family Use Microbecide Silver Ion Complex.
  • Get tested. If you have a skin infection that requires treatment, ask your doctor if you should be tested for MRSA. Doctors may prescribe drugs that aren't effective against antibiotic-resistant staph, which delays treatment and creates more resistant germs. Testing specifically for MRSA may get you the specific antibiotic you need to effectively treat your infection.
  • Use antibiotics appropriately. When you're prescribed an antibiotic, take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better. Don't stop until your doctor tells you to stop. Don't share antibiotics with others or save unfinished antibiotics for another time. Inappropriate use of antibiotics, including not taking all of your prescription and overuse, contributes to resistance. If your infection isn't improving after a few days of taking an antibiotic, contact your doctor.

Signs and Symptoms

Staph infections, including MRSA, generally start as small red bumps that resemble pimples, boils or spider bites. These can quickly turn into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical draining. Sometimes the bacteria remain confined to the skin. But they can also burrow deep into the body, causing potentially life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs.


Although the survival tactics of bacteria contribute to bacterial resistance, humans bear most of the responsibility for the problem. Leading causes of bacterial resistance include:
  • Unnecessary antibiotic use in humans. Like other superbugs, MRSA is the result of decades of excessive and unnecessary antibiotic use. For years, antibiotics have been prescribed for colds, flu and other viral infections that don't respond to these drugs, as well as for simple bacterial infections that normally clear on their own.
  • Antibiotics in food and water. Prescription drugs aren't the only source of antibiotics. For example, in the United States, antibiotics can be found in beef cattle, pigs and chickens. The same antibiotics then find their way into municipal water systems when the runoff from feedlots contaminates streams and groundwater. Routine feeding of antibiotics to animals is banned in the European Union and many other industrialized countries. Antibiotics given in the proper doses to animals who are sick don't appear to produce resistant bacteria.
  • Germ mutation. Even when antibiotics are used appropriately, they contribute to the rise of bacterial resistance because they don't destroy every germ they target. Bacteria live on an evolutionary fast track, so germs that survive treatment with one antimicrobial agent soon learn to resist others. And because bacteria mutate much more quickly than new drugs or agents can be produced, some germs end up resistant to just about everything. That's why only a handful of antimicrobial agents are now effective against most forms of staph.

Risk Factors

Because hospital and community strains of MRSA generally occur in different settings, the risk factors for the two strains differ. Risk factors for hospital-acquired (HA) MRSA include:
  • A current or recent hospitalization. MRSA remains a concern in hospitals, where it can attack those most vulnerable — older adults, young children and people with weakened immune systems, burns, surgical wounds or serious underlying health problems. A 2007 report from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology estimates that 1.2 million hospital patients are infected with MRSA each year in the United States alone. They also estimate another 423,000 are colonized with it.
  • Residing in a long-term care facility. MRSA is far more prevalent in these facilities than it is in hospitals. Carriers of MRSA have the ability to spread it, even if they're not sick themselves.
  • Invasive devices. People who are on dialysis, are catheterized, or have feeding tubes or other invasive devices are at higher risk.
  • Recent antibiotic use. Treatment with fluoroquinolones (ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin or levofloxacin) or cephalosporin antibiotics can increase the risk of HA-MRSA.
These are the main risk factors for community-acquired (CA) MRSA:
  • Young age. CA-MRSA can be particularly dangerous in children. Often entering the body through a cut or scrape, MRSA can quickly cause a wide spread infection. Children may be susceptible because their immune systems aren't fully developed or they don't yet have antibodies to common germs. Children and young adults are also much more likely to develop dangerous forms of pneumonia than older people are.
  • Participating in contact sports. CA-MRSA has crept into both amateur and professional sports teams. The bacteria spread easily through cuts and abrasions and skin-to-skin contact.
  • Sharing towels or athletic equipment. Although few outbreaks have been reported in public gyms, CA-MRSA has spread among athletes sharing razors, towels, uniforms or equipment.
  • Having a weakened immune system. People with weakened immune systems, including those living with HIV/AIDS, are more likely to have severe CA-MRSA infections.
  • Living in crowded or closed population conditions. Outbreaks of CA-MRSA have occurred in military training camps and in American and European prisons.
  • Association with health care workers. People who are in close contact with health care workers are at increased risk of serious staph infections.

Microbecide Silver Ion Complex

cide™ Silver Ion Complex is effective not only against strains of MRSA: Community Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) and Community Associated PVL Positive MRSA (PVL MRSA), but also against Campylobacter jejuni, one of the leading causative agents for human gastroenteritis worldwide, and Acinetobacter baumannii, an opportunistic nosocomial pathogen responsible for serious infections among soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. cide™ Silver Ion Complex forms an "Active Kill Barrier" to provide 24-hour residual protection against Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Salmonella choleraesuis. Microbecide Silver Ion Complex eliminates:
  • The Human Corona virus which infects the gastrointestinal tract and the upper respiratory tract. The most notable of the Human Corona viruses is the SARS-CoV strain, which causes SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).
  • Rotavirus - The most frequent cause of severe diarrhea among children, Rotavirus leads to the hospitalization of approximately 55,000 children in the United States each year.
  • Norovirus - Noroviruses cause gastroenteritis, more commonly referred to as “stomach flu.” Norovirus is highly contagious and spreads rapidly throughout closed environments.
  • H5N1 Virus - Avian Influenza A viruses cause Avian influenza, often referred to as “bird flu.”

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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