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MRSA Hits House Staffer

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, April 17, 2009 1:07 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: MRSA, Staph, Hospital Infections, Community Acquired Infections, Public Health, Bacterial Infection, CDC

House staffer gym member contracts MRSA and many offer ways to clean the gym.  


MRSA can resemble a bug bite that is infected.

IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockPhoto/ working out in gym/ author: jon11


More proof that MRSA - methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus – is everywhere, even near the corridors of power.  

Congressional staffer has contracted the superbug bacterial infection. It is thought that he came in contact with the infection in a gym used by employees of the House.  

The House Staff Fitness Center (HSFC) is where many work out who work on the Hill, though this individual's identity has not be released.   Hill Staffer writes to InjuryBoard that members of Congress use a much more private facility in a different building.

In an e-mail sent to House employees Tuesday by Kathy Zumbar, the wellness and fitness coordinator, as reported by The Hill, “The infected employee will stay away from the gym until the condition has healed completely. The gym has been scoured the place clean with “Simple Green D Pro 3 disinfectant, virucidal, fungicidal.”   

A discussion on an InjuryBoard blog debates which product might be the most effective to remove all remnants of the bacterial infection.  Simple Green d Pro 3 is effective against MRSA, says its maker, and is currently undergoing EPA authorization to say that on the label.

Bioguardian Inc. says the gym needs to be inspected quarterly using a UV light to check for bodily fluids before it is disinfected.

The gym reportedly now has additional disinfectant and reminders in place to use it after each visit to the equipment. 

You’re Going To Get It

“You’re going to get it,” promises Dr. Gary Simon to ABC News. He is the director of the division of infectious diseases at George Washington University.   MRSA is in about one-third of us he says, typically found on the skin and in the nose. 

Often people can mistake a MRSA infection for an infected bug bite or a boil, so treatment is delayed. If an area of the skin that looks like a bug bite is red and raised, it is recommended to soak it with a hot, damp towel.  The infection will come to a head and drain.   Treatment may also include antibiotics. 

Occasionally MRSA can go beyond a skin infection and can basically become “flesh eating” taking with it skin and muscle and getting into the blood stream when it can be fatal.

That is reported to be very rare.

MRSA is far more common that previous thought. Besides being relegated to hospitals where it can spread from patient to patient, “community-acquired MRSA” is increasingly found in gyms and clinics and killing otherwise healthy people.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says MRSA led to more than 94,000 serious infection and 18,000 deaths in 2005, killing more Americans than AIDS.

Partially blame concentrated animal feeding operation or CAFO, for the evolution of this strain of MRSA. Heavy use of antibiotics selects for the more virulent new microbe as food journalist and author Michal Polan reports on frequently.

Raising animals in confinement requires the intense use of antibiotics to keep the animals alive for their short lives, and the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates about 70 percent of antibiotic use is fed to animals living on these factory farms. 

A bill introduced in March by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) would reduce the amount of antibiotics used in animal agriculture. The bill is supported by the American Medical Association and more than 350 groups.

Don’t worry

Dr. John Bartlett, chief of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins, tells ABC News that the source of the infection would be another person, not a gym.  

It is recommended to cover any wounds before going to a hospital, community clinic or gym.  Remember to wash your hands and do not share towels which may carry the bacteria.

Keeping your own immune system in top shape also makes it less likely the bug will get a hold of your system.    #

1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Chris
Sunday, April 19, 2009 1:16 PM EST

It is appalling that we know so much about CA-MRSA yet the infectious disease specialist from Johns Hopkins can not be more specific about how to prevent the spread of MRSA in a community gym. Both personal and environmental hygiene need to be stressed when commenting about this infection to the media. First of all, persons with even the slightest evidence of a skin infection should not be in the gym regardless of whether the skin wound is covered or not. If MRSA is in the nose (the most common site of colonization) it is all over the skin especially during a sweaty workout. Next personal hygiene such as showering with a soap that is effective against MRSA and other skin flora should be stressed after each session in the gym. Gym clothes should be washed between each session. Each piece of gym equipment should be decontaminated using an effective disinfectant after each use regardless of the presence or absence of even minor skin lesions. Towels and other materials should be used exclusively by one person and discarded in a hamper. Assistants working in the gym should not touch these towels with their bare hands or they should be sure that hands are washed with soap and water or an alcohol hand hygiene product. Better still gloves might be considered when touching the contaminated towels. Signs should be posted warning those who use the equipment that strict infection control precautions should be followed by everyone using the equipment and the attendants. The signs should include a summary of precautions.

The staffer who was on the receiving end of the MRSA infection should be couselled as to how to prevent transmitting MRSA to the next person, his or her boss and work associates and family and friends.

Although the incidence of invasive MRSA infection is moderately low in the community no scientist regardless of how expert they are in infectious diseases can predict with any certainty who will suddenly develop symptoms of invasive MRSA infection and require weeks of hospitalization and antibiotic therapy.

Comments for this article are closed.

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