Preventing Staph Infections

Q. How can I help prevent antibiotic-resistant staph infection?

A. As reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, was responsible for an alarming 94,000 serious infections and nearly 19,000 deaths in 2005. We used to think of MRSA infections as being exclusively "hospital acquired," and while some 85 percent are linked to health-care settings, we're learning that this super-bug is common in the community, too. Your best protection, as always, is to practice good hygiene whether you're at home, work, school, or the gym. If you have to go to to the hospital or doctor's office, don't feel shy about asking health-care providers to wash their hands before and after they examine you.

Our society's overuse of antibiotics has contributed to the MRSA epidemic, and continuing down this path could make the problem far worse. We all need to remember that, for most minor ailments, the body has its own powerful healing mechanisms. We should be very judicious about when we use antibiotics.

Text by Brent Ridge, M.D.

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