BLOOMINGTON, Indiana, September 28. FOR Indiana University diver Cassidy Kahn, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a disease that hits close to home. In the headlines the last several years due to breakouts among various athletics teams across the country, MRSA nearly cost Kahn her life two years ago.
It all started as nothing more than an innocent-looking rash. But within days of noticing a small bug bite-type bump and redness on her legs, Kahn was in a Bloomington Hospital operating room fighting for her life.
The battle, and the spread of this deadly bacteria, has Kahn working on the IU campus to promote World MRSA Day on Oct. 2. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2005, about 94,000 persons developed their first invasive (i.e., serious) MRSA infection, of which approximately 19,000 died.
MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics called beta-lactams. These antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin. In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections.
MRSA infections, as with all staph, are usually spread by having contact with someone's skin infection or personal items they have used, like towels, bandages, or razors that touched their infected skin. These infections are most likely to be spread in places where people are in close contact with others—for instance, schools and locker rooms where athletes might share razors or towels.
Factors that have been associated with the spread of MRSA skin infections include: close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions, and poor hygiene. People may be more at risk in locations where these factors are common, including: athletic facilities, dormitories, military barracks, households, correctional facilities, and daycare centers.
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