MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus)

I recently joined a gym. That is a powerful statement, because if you know me, you know that I have a love/hate relationship with the gym. I love the results but I hate the work. But I have made a conscious effort to take my physical health by the bullhorns. Along with other life-altering decisions, in signing up for the local gym, I opted for a personal trainer. One of the concerns about joining the gym was a little bug we call MRSA (pronounced Mer-Sa). The acronym MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. MRSA is a highly contagious staph infection that is resistant to most antibiotics.

There are two types of MRSA infections. The first type is hospital acquired. This affects people who are in the hospital or clinic settings for long- or short-term stays. The infection may be found in the urine, blood or other body fluids. The other type of MRSA infection is community-associated MRSA. This classification of is spread though direct contact and is prevalent in gyms, locker rooms, prisons, dorms, and other crowded spaces where people come into direct contact with one another.

How is community-associated MRSA spread?

MRSA usually grows at a rapid pace in warm, moist areas, and can live on dry surfaces for long periods of time ranging from days to weeks. MRSA is spread via skin-to-skin contact or by touching contaminated surfaces such as gym equipment, towels etc.

How to recognize MRSA skin infections?

It usually starts off as what looks like a pimple or a boil, which is called a papule. The papule is warm to touch and painful. There is also pus or drainage from the site. In some cases the individual may experience fever or chills.

How will I know it is definitely MRSA?

The only way to diagnose MRSA is to have a sample of the wound obtained with a sterile Q-tip by a licensed practitioner and sent to a microbiology lab for evaluation.

How is MRSA treated?

Under the treatment of a licensed practitioner, antibiotic treatment is recommended. In some cases, which may be more severe, the practitioner may perform what is called and I and D (Incision and drainage). This is a sterile technique by which the wound is surgically opened and the contents are drained under local anesthesia.

Okay, now I’m nervous about gyms. What should I do?

Don’t be scared of the gym – the purpose of this article is merely to inform. Make sure you follow these few steps when going to the gym:

·      Wash or sanitize your hands before and after the use of gym equipment.

·      Clean gym equipment before and after use.

·      DO NOT use equipment if you have an open cut or abrasion; if you do have one, cover it up with a bandage or Band-Aid.

·      Use a towel as a barrier on gym equipment you have to sit, lay, or lean on.

When choosing a gym, make sure the facility provides disinfectants for wiping down equipment for members. Also, it is okay to ask about the cleaning practices of your local gym. Working out is fun when you are safe; the key is to protect others and yourself from any harm or danger. I purchased workout gloves and I am on my way to better health. Wish me luck on my new health journey. Have fun and be safe.

Stay happy and healthy!