Re: Is Mrsa for life?
This is my personal experience with CA-MRSA, a cautionary tale.
First, I apologize for the LENGTHY post, but I think I have valuable info to pass along. I contracted CA-MRSA (a community-acquired strain vs hospital) from an unknown source while in a family clinic. Over the course of 18 months I developed three separate infections on my back, upper lip, and hip. The first one went undiagnosed as CA-MRSA, as my doctor did an incision and drainage (I&D) without sending a culture, and put me on the antibiotic Cephalexin, a common antibiotic given for skin infections. Thankfully it resolved on its own anyway.
The second time was my lip and was the one that made me sickest overall. My face swelled alarmingly overnight--my eyes were nearly swollen shut and I was feverish, weak and in an incredible amount of pain; I couldn't stand even the movement of air on it. I was sent to the ER and [a culture] did confirm MRSA. I was then treated with IV Vancomycin daily for a week. Meanwhile my adult son who lives with me also developed the same symtoms. He wound up suffering from several infections on his abdomen, back, hand and neck. The first two resolved on their own, but for his hand, again without a culture, he was put on an antibiotic to which MRSA is not sensitive.
24 hours later, after traveling to Long Island for work my son's hand became extremely swollen and painful. He was taken to the ER and admitted and was so ill that he was delirious and wanted to sign himself out. His attending surgeon was very concerned that he may lose fingers or even his entire hand if he didn't get treatment (this Dr. heeded me when told of my MRSA), so I flew up there to calm him. An I&D was done under anesthesia and, thankfully, the infection started to resolve. He was discharged on an effective oral antibiotic and is fine now. (He actually developed one more infection on his neck which was identifed and treated right away).
The third bout I had started with a small, warm, reddened area on my left hip. Knowing right away what it was I started taking the antibiotic Bactrim immediately but the infection still progressed rapidly and I was again sent to the ER. An I&D was done--it turned out to be a narrow wound tunneling several inches. It was drained and packed with tape-like medicated gauze, which I changed daily using a long-stemmed Q-tip. I have to confess that the I&D was so painful I thought I was going to pass out, and I'm no stranger to pain. I've never understood why MRSA causes such exquisite tenderness compared to most other infections. If anyone knows, I'd appreciate the info!
It took a few weeks for the tunnel to heal from the inside out--it gradually required less and less packing until it healed. Meanwhile I saw an Infectious Disease Dr. at UNC who explained being a carrier and infecting yourself, and how you can also be a carrier and pass it to others without ever developing an infection yourself. I was prescribed Hibiclens washes and Mupirocin ointment to apply inside my nares. That was 6 years ago and I haven't had a subsequent infection.
It's a puzzle to me how only my son and I, among our contacts (two very healthy people), were the only ones who contracted this. It makes me wonder whether there may be a genetic predisposition to succeptibilty...?
If MY diagnosis slipped through the cracks (by UNC/Duke physicians, no less, who are normally on the cutting edge of medicine) I can't imagine how many others are underdiagnosed and treated.
So the message here is that if you find you have a area on your skin that becomes swollen and tender very quickly, especially if you develop a fever and malaise, see your doctor asap and insist on a wound culture. This organism is very virulent and dangerous and can quickly travel throughout the body and be deadly even to the very young and healthy. It can be spread by contaminated surfaces and the sharing of personal items such as towels, but most typically it's spread via hand contact. Bleach, as well as other household cleaners, are effective at killing the bacteria.
Also, it's imperative that providers cease prescribing antibiotics indiscriminately to avoid the development of resistant strains. Bactrim is usually effective, but, frighteningly there are strains developing now that are resistant even to Bactrim. The public can help by not demanding antibiotic treatment for mild infections and viral illnesses. The patients often want to 'get their money's worth' when they see the Dr. and come away with a prescription in hand, but they often don't realize the true cost to society. There may very well come a day when there is no effective arsenal against these superbugs.
In answer to the posted question, no, MRSA carriers are not "for life." Proper antibiotic treatment can eliminate the harbored bacteria, although it is possible to become a carrier again if exposed.
Last edited by Mod-S4; 06-09-2013 at 04:15 PM.
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