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January 6th, 2011:

MRSA 101

We are still anchored in Lake Worth at North Palm Beach, waiting for my leg to completely heal before moving on south.  Three days ago I developed a rash on my abdomen which was an allergic reaction to the Bactrim (sulfa drug).  Upon calling our family physician, I was instructed to stop the Bactrim (I’d already taken the last pill the evening before), and switch to Clindamycin.  The doctor wants me to stay on an antibiotic until my leg is completely healed.  “MRSA is a difficult infection to heal.”, was her comment.  It’s been 16 days since it reared it’s ugly head, and we agree with her statement.  Friends and family have asked how I got it and for everyone’s safety, I’m writing the following:

Mine started a few days before we left Melbourne, with what looked like a pimple on my inner thigh.  It looked like it was a white head and when I tried to squeeze it, nothing came out.  I wasn’t concerned about it until the day before we were to leave, I woke up and there was a red circle around the pimple. It looked like a spider bite.  The day we were to leave port, it felt hot and had doubled in size.  That’s when we went to the doctor.  She suspected MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), took a culture to test it, and started me on the antibiotic, Keflex.  Not knowing at the time if the infection was staph or not, her instructions were, “If it doesn’t start to improve within 48 hours, switch to Bactrim”, the sulfa drug, because sulfa will kill MRSA, where most antibiotics, such as Keflex, won’t.

The next morning I awakened to find it had grown twice the size again, and the cellulitis around the boil-type infection continued to grow daily until it was bigger than a grapefruit. It was a good thing I switched to the Bactrim.  The rest of the story has been written in previous blogs.

So…how did I get it?  I asked the emergency room doctor that very question and her answer confirmed what Gary’s doctor told us a couple of years ago when he got MRSA.  CA-MRSA (Community Associated MRSA) is everywhere…on grocery cart handles, door knobs, everywhere.  It used to be people only got it in healthcare facilities; this type is now referred to as HA-MRSA (Healthcare Associated MRSA).  Pretty scary.  In Gary’s case, it started with an ingrown hair in his nose that he picked at.  In my case, when I tried to squeeze the pimple, the doctor said instead of the infection coming out, it probably just spread under the tissue.  Bottom line…Don’t pick at anything on your body.  And, if something doesn’t heal within a couple of days, see a doctor.  MRSA WILL NOT HEAL WITHOUT THE PROPER ANTIBIOTIC AND/OR MEDICAL CARE; AND, IT CAN BE LIFE-THREATENING IF LEFT UNTREATED.  I am fortunate that mine is healing properly and when I was at the ER the first time, they checked my blood to make sure it was not in my bloodstream.  Prevention: wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.  Use soap and water when available and wash for 15 seconds.  Antibacterial gels should only be used when soap and water is unavailable.

This is what I have learned about MRSA  and it has been stated to the best of my understanding of the disease. *** IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS, CONSULT A MEDICAL DOCTOR.