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Antibiotic-resistant Super-Bug, MRSA courtesy of STOKO

Greg Doss

In this podcast, we interview Greg Doss from STOKO Skin Care an expert in skin and hand hygiene with almost 20 years of experience with STOKO Skin Care, one of the world’s leading suppliers of Away From Home hand hygiene products and programs.

CLEAN TIPS: Antibiotic-resistant Super-Bug, MRSA

SM: Hi, I’m James Pease and this is Clean Tips, smart podcasts for the cleaning industry

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as Staph Infection, the Super Bug, M-R-S-A and "MRSA," is a bacterial infection that is resistant to some of our most powerful antibiotics, including penicillin, methicillin and cephalosporins. Once found only in hospital environments, new strains of this super bug have evolved in recent years, and are now infecting the broader community. Outbreaks among school sports teams, in locker rooms and gymnasiums have made the news in a number of communities, causing quite a bit of alarm.

MRSA is a serious problem. If misdiagnosed or left untreated, it can kill. According to an October 2007 study led by the Centers for Disease Control, MRSA is responsible for more deaths in the USA each year than AIDS. Especially concerning is that MRSA infection can pass from person-to-person completely by accident. A carrier with no symptoms of infection can pass the bacteria on to another person through the most casual contact – simply by sharing an object or even a public restroom facility.

School administrators, people responsible for workplace health and safety, and anyone whose business involves contact with the public needs to know the facts about this infectious disease: what it is and how to fight it.

Our guest today is Greg Doss, an expert in skin and hand hygiene with alomost 20 years of experience with STOKO Skin Care, one of the world’s leading suppliers of Away From Home hand hygiene products and programs. Thank you for joining us, Greg.

DOSS: Hello and thank you for inviting me to talk about this important topic.

SM: It’s my pleasure. First, could you tell us a little about why STOKO has stepped to the forefront in the battle against MRSA?

DOSS: At STOKO Skin Care, part of our mission is to protect the health and safety of people while away from home. This means while at work, in school at any level, working out in gyms, traveling, in sports arenas, or dining, – anytime you’re away from home. We accomplish this by providing a full system of products that can help protect the skin, various cleansers that effectively clean different levels of dirt and grime, as well as conditioning and regenerative creams and lotions. We also offer our expertise in solving specific skin health problems. When we became aware of the MRSA, we took immediate action to find out how we could help our customers keep this super bug from becoming a problem in their communities.

SM: What, exactly, is MRSA?

DOSS: M-R-S-A, commonly pronounced "MRSA," is a catch-all term covering a number of strains of bacteria that have developed a resistance to antibiotics. The original strain was first discovered in a British hospital almost 50 years ago. Known as Hospital Acquired or H-A-MRSA, this is still the most dangerous form of infection, due to the lower resistance to disease among hospital patients.

More recently, new strains of antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus bacteria have evolved outside of the hospital setting. These are known as Community Acquired or C-A MRSA and they affect the broader community. While the incidence of CA-MRSA is lower than that of HA-MRSA, and since infected individuals tend to be healthier, mortality rates for CA-MRSA are lower. It’s still a serious problem, though. CA-MRSA can kill.

SM: Just how big a problem is CA-MRSA?

DOSS: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 – 30% of the general population – that’s an average of at least one out of every four people you meet – carry some form of Staph bacteria on their skin. This is normal and does not pose a serious health concern. However if the bacteria comes in contact with an open wound – something as simple as a paper cut – it can invade the body and cause an infection. The vast majority of these infections can be treated with antibiotics.

The serious problem arises in about 2.6% of cases, where an antibiotic-resistant strain is passed on. This is CA-MRSA. About 2.5 million people in the US carry it. Of those who become infected, about 23% have to be hospitalized; and if it isn’t properly treated, the infection can be fatal.

SM: So, of the 25 – 30% of people who are carriers of Staph bacteria, just two and a half percent – about 2.5 million people – are carriers of MRSA.

DOSS: Yes, we don’t want to be alarmist or exaggerate the threat. For most people, the risk of acquiring MRSA in their day-to-day lives is low. However, there are a number of higher-risk situations of which we need to be aware, so that we can take proper precautions.

In any situation where you can expect regular bodily contact or where items are passed from hand to hand, the risk increases. If the situation also involves activities that can cause minor cuts and abrasions, the risk increases again. This is why we’re seeing MRSA outbreaks among school sports teams: there’s bodily contact; items are passed from hand to hand; and there’s a higher prevalence of minor cuts and abrasions.

You see the same conditions in many workplace environments: regular tasks carry some risk of cuts and abrasions; employees hand objects to each other; people work in fairly close proximity; and they share washing and clean-up facilities. In situations where some or all of these conditions exist, the risk factors for MRSA are higher than normal.

SM: Schools, fitness centers, food service, manufacturing, mining,– a lot of higher-risk workplaces come to mind pretty quickly.

DOSS: Yes, in just about any place where groups of people gather, you can identify at least one area where the risk or MRSA infection is higher than normal. That’s why it’s so important to know and implement the proper prevention measures.

SM: What are those proper prevention measures?

DOSS: That’s the good news. The most effective way to keep becoming a problem in your school, store, plant – wherever – is to practice good hand hygiene. Encourage everyone to wash their hands thoroughly and regularly. If someone has a minor cut or abrasion, make sure they keep it covered.

Also, it’s really important to provide good, effective skin moisturizers and restorers because they promote healthier skin that won’t cut or crack quite so easily. Hand washing can cause skin to become dry and uncomfortable – and many people will avoid it in order to avoid the discomfort. Providing a moisturizer solves this problem because people are encouraged to wash their hands more often. Beyond that, be sure to keep shared surfaces clean – especially restroom and wash-up areas.

SM: So, those are the simple steps that we can take to defeat the Super bug: keep shared surfaces clean; cover all cuts and abrasions; have everyone wash their hands thoroughly and often; and provide skin moisturizers to encourage hand washing and make the skin more resistant to minor injuries.

DOSS: Yes, that’s it; and if you have any questions about how to implement a MRSA-prevention program in your facility, don’t hesitate to call STOKO Skin Care at 1-800-334-0242. We can give you the facts you need, show you a complete line of hand hygiene and skin care products, and provide the expertise that will empower you to build an effective defense against MRSA infection.

SM: Thank you, Greg. Our guest today has been Greg Doss from STOKO Skin Care. For more information on this serious issue, go to www.stokoskincare.com or click the STOKO link on this page.

posted on 1/15/2008