Mangaluru: Ignorance Triggers False Alarm! MRSA Confused for MERS – Dean AJ Hospital Dr Ramesh Pai

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Mangaluru: A J Hospital held a press meet to clarify the protest of nursing students from Laxmi Memorial Education Trust against the spread of MRSA among them, at the Conference Hall, AJ Hospital premises here, on June 13.

Addressing the mediapersons, the Dean of A J Hospital, Dr Ramesh Pai said that the human body is normally colonized by millions of bacteria. One such bacteria is staphylococcus aureus. Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a strain of staphylococcus aureus which has developed resistance to multiple drugs commonly used to treat the bacteria.

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Staph, Aureus and MRSA are most often mere colonizers not infective agents. Colonization means there is presence of bacteria but without signs of illness or infection. Common sites of colonization are nostrils, belly button, underarms, groin. Further briefing on the infection related to MRSA, Dr Ramesh said that an infection implies clinical signs of illness or inflammation due to tissue damage caused by the bacteria. Colonization with MRSA does not indicate infection and poses no threat to the healthy individual. Colonization among the normal people has been seen to be approximately 23-30%. Whereas colonization among healthcare workers is around 50-74%.

No treatment is required for colonization. Most people do not know that they are colonized because the bacteria present do not cause any symptoms. The single most effective way of preventing the spread of MRSA is by proper and through hand hygiene measures.

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He further said, “Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus was first reported in the 1960s, the first instance being in England. This is not a new story and it is not just prevalent in healthcare personnel. It could also be community acquired and can happen at sports, athletics, dharmashalas or anywhere else and is not restricted to a hospital. Many people in Mangaluru suffer from malaria, but do we talk of malaria like MRSA was today? No, because it has become a part and parcel of life. Similarly MRSA in the Western world has become almost like an endemic. A few people with very weak immune systems may die, but everybody doesn’t die. Many healthy individuals could carry MSRA. Why does everybody not suffer? It could be due to a variety of reasons, mainly their genetic disposition.”

“The Swachh Bharath drive shows us to give importance to cleanliness. If our society is clean, many of our diseases can be prevented. But that is not happening because we do not have civic sense. I see a person in a good car throwing garbage towards a bin from a distance of 20 meters. It may fall anywhere, but he is not bothered. We have to be responsible in such things. Similarly, here in the hospital, we take adequate precautions to prevent unhygienic practices.”

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Dr Anitha said, “Almost everybody carries one bacteria or the other. Unless we care for hand hygiene properly, there is every chance that bacteria can be transmitted from person to person, regardless of irrespective of whether you are a healthcare worker or a patient. We conduct routine tests for MRSA using a nasal swab, randomly selecting nurses and healthcare personnel to check if they are carrying MRSA. If we find MRSA carriage, we prescribe local application of Mupirocin ointment into the nose for one week to 10 days following which we repeated the nasal swab as per the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The students might have misunderstood this as treatment. Fever and rashes can happen due to various things, and does not mean that you are carrying MRSA.”

Medical Director Dr Prashanth Marla, District Health Officer Dr Ramakrishna Rao, District Surveillance officer Dr Rajesh, Dr Srinivas Kakkillaya and Dr Roopa Bhandary were also present.

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