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MRSA Has Met Its Match

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or as it’s commonly known as, MRSA, has become a serious public health issue. The threat of MRSA, which has long been a concern for institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes, is making inroads into other aspects of everyday life. Schools, health clubs, and even the family home, are reporting an increase of this infection. Although this bacteria is a subspecies of common staph that’s found almost everywhere, including on our bodies, one thing that sets it apart is its resistance to antibiotics. Thus the infections it provokes aren’t necessarily more virulent than other staph infections, but its resistance to treatment is where the danger lies.

MRSA can live for weeks on counter tops, door knobs, toys, furniture, sports equipment, pets, and the list goes on. How long the bacteria can live depends on the temperature, humidity and other factors. Besides surfaces, MRSA can also pass through the air on dust and other particles.

When it comes to actually getting the infection, MRSA needs a way to enter the body. Some ways in which it does this are through open cuts, wounds, or surgical sites. It can also make its way in through the sinuses, mouth, and lungs.

Given the prevalence and seriousness of MRSA, the best approach to dealing with it is the preventative approach. This involves good hygiene practices like hand-washing and household disinfection. MRSA can also be controlled with alcohol and other related surface sanitizers. Where such substances are impractical, another approach has been gaining popularity–activated oxygen.

Activated oxygen, also known as ozone, has been shown to be successful in safely eradicating MRSA bacteria. A report from Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology * cited one particular instance where a woman was repeatedly falling victim to MRSA infections. Although her children and her cat tested negative for MRSA, a shocking 34 per cent of the samples taken from her living area tested positive. The decision was made to treat the area in question with gaseous ozone (activated oxygen). This approach resulted in all previously infected areas now testing negatively for MRSA. It had been completely eliminated.

Activated oxygen has long been used as a sanitizing agent in the water purification industry and in hospitals. Its effectiveness has led to it branching out into the food industry, locker rooms, and the home. Although some may be unfamiliar with such a use of activated oxygen, this will likely soon change–especially as pathogens such as MRSA continue to crop up and challenge conventional methods of control.

*Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, October 2006, Vol. 27, No. 10