You can’t live in a bubble. That’s essentially what Dr. Waleed Albert told the audience at Tuesday night’s “Protecting Yourself Against Superbugs,” an educational session about methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at the Rome Capitol Theater.
ROME - You can’t live in a bubble.
That’s essentially what Dr. Waleed Albert told the audience at Tuesday night’s “Protecting Yourself Against Superbugs,” an educational session about methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at the Rome Capitol Theater.
“We don’t have an outbreak,” said Albert, an infectious disease doctor who practices in Utica and Rome. “MRSA is here to stay. Panic set in where an article was published in the Journal of American Medical Association. There was that death (in Virginia) and then a few local cases were reported all at once.”
Albert, however, stressed the public should be more worried about the everyday bacteria that surrounds them.
“Look at the carts we touch when we go to the grocery store,” he said. “Look at the money we get back from the cashier. You don’t know who has touched those things before.”
Many people are colonized with the staph bacteria, but only a small percentage of humans develop MRSA through certain risk factors:
* Crowding, such as schools or day care.
* Compromised skin, such as eczema.
* sharing contaminated items, such as locker room items
* Contact sports, such as wrestling
* Cleanliness, or lack thereof.
Since many of these risk factors develop in schools, Cheri Coughlin decided to attend Tuesday’s seminar.
As a nurse for the alternative education program at Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES, Coughlin said many of her students were worried about MRSA.
“The kids are in a panic,” Coughlin said. “I try to stress that they shouldn’t stress, but the rumors have already started. One kid gets sent home from school and he has MRSA. I tell them to be more afraid of meningitis or the flu.”
Coughlin said she is being proactive by encouraging her students to wash their hands, and she left Tuesday’s event with extra pamphlets on skin infections.
“As long as you wash your hands and be aware, you can go on living your life,” Albert said, “Even if you have MRSA. Think of it this way – 38,000 people die from the influenza every year in America. And that’s preventable – and there’s a vaccine. The MRSA numbers are much less.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported MRSA is responsible for about 19,000 deaths per year.
Sharon Davis of the Oneida County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Program, said to wash your hands effectively, you must wash for 15 seconds with hot water and soap, cleansing in between each finger.
If soap is not readily available, a hand sanitizer will work, too, she said.