A closer look at MRSA bacteria

By Evrod Cassimy – bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – There are a lot of questions tonight about a MRSA outbreak at Chippenham Medical Center. As we first broke earlier today, a newborn baby died, and 10 others were sickened during the incident in September. But many people are asking tonight, why we just heard about the cases today, and just what is this bacteria?

MRSA is a fairly common type of bacteria. We're told that we are just now hearing about it because the MRSA outbreak at the hospital was not an immediate threat to the public. Still it's best to be educated about it to keep from getting infected.

"MRSA is everywhere," said Dr. Danny Avula, with the Richmond City Health District. "MRSA is throughout our community; people have it on their bodies all the time and may not know it at all. Many people have it living in their nostrils or on their skin and it's not actually causing an infection."

In fact Doctor Avula explains that at any given time a MRSA outbreak could happen at any hospital all across the country. This infection however is not a pretty one.

"The typical kind of enlarged pimple or boil," said Dr. Avula. "It could be just a centimeter wide and have a red head. When you go to drain it a lot of puss and fluid will leak out of it."

Treating this infection is sometimes difficult because the bacteria is resistant to certain types of antibiotics. Thankfully, there are simple ways to prevent yourself from getting infected.

"It's really all about hygiene," said Dr. Avula. "It's hand washing, it's being aware of skin infections and abscesses, and not making hand contact with that infection."

MRSA deaths are quite uncommon. While one baby did die because of it, the other ten are expected to be okay. The NICU was closed on September 24 and reopened Thursday. Some of the infected newborns have been allowed to go home.

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