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MRSA: What is it, and How do we Contain it?

MRSA: What is it, and How do we Contain it?

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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Perhaps one of the most important concepts in emergency management is figuring out how to contain an emergency well. The principle behind this is simple: if one can keep an emergency contained, one can figure out how to manage that emergency effectively preventing it from spiraling out of control.  Mass casualty Incidents ultimately refer to the notion that an agency is overwhelmed as it refers to too many patients for the number of resources available. Thus, it is always important for emergency managers to contemplate how to keep an emergency contained, and from worsening.

The handling of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, (better known as MRSA), by most hospitals is a great example of one of the main principles of emergency management. When a case presents, hospitals handle MRSA by limiting exposure, having staff take certain precautions and then treating the patient.   The procedures outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) works well and provides insights into how to keep infectious diseases under control.

What Is MRSA?

MRSA is considered to be a “superbug” infectious disease and is resistant to most antibiotics – making it difficult to treat. According to WebMD, it can present in a simple wound, or it can infect surgical sites and other parts of the body.  The illness can be quite serious for patients, therefore specialized procedures are required at hospitals to limit exposure and the potential spread of the illness. Understanding the infection is essential in keeping it from spreading and minimizing its effects.

Ways to Contract it

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are five main ways to contract MRSA. These include, “Crowding, frequent skin to skin contact, compromised skin, (i.e. cuts or abrasions), contaminated items, and lack of cleanliness.”  According to the CDC, many places may potentially contain MRSA including military barracks, daycare centers, locker rooms, and places of education – just to name a few.

Preventing MRSA

The CDC several measures that people can take to help prevent MRSA infections. For individuals with a suspected wound infected with MRSA, the CDC recommends they keep it clean and covered to help prevent the spreading of MRSA. They also recommend that hospital staff always wear gowns, eye protection and gloves when working with a patient with suspected MRSA. They require that a patient be quarantined to his or her room.  These precautions work well and certainly help to prevent infections from spreading. Before a positive diagnosis, it may be difficult for Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics to understand the precautions they should take based on the patient. Therefore, it is important for suspected cases to have personnel take universal precautions to minimize exposure.

Conclusion

Infectious diseases are always a concern. They can create situations in emergency management that may potentially be uncontrollable. It is important to always minimize these issues and to take the appropriate precautions. MRSA serves as an excellent example of working to contain an infectious disease by utilizing what we know about it in advance.

 



American Military University
Allison G. S. Knox An emergency medical technician and a political scientist, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior ... learn more

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