MRSA /Staph Infections In Health Clubs

Cleaning supplies in a gym.

MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), a staph infection, was confined to hospitals, hospices, prisons, and poverty-stricken areas.

Now, this "superbug", which is able to resist most antibiotics, and can cause death within 72 hours in some cases, has been found in places such as health and fitness clubs, daycare centers, schools, and other public places. My initial suggestion is to never Google MRSA images, after having just eaten. Just a warning... Don't run from it either. This infection is LETHAL it will eat you alive, in a very short time. Your skin will literally melt, your flesh will disolve till there is nothing but bone left. The strain is called CA-MRSA. (sometimes spelled MERSA) If you belong to a health club, yoga studio, martial arts academy, you need to be aware of your increased risk of getting a MRSA infection, and how to protect yourself before, during, and after working out. Even though many health clubs have increased their cleaning regimen to include power washing locker rooms each day and hiring additional employees to monitor locker rooms during peak hours, which include mornings, the lunch hour, and late afternoon, you are still at risk if you don't protect yourself.This includes:
  • Washing hands thoroughly throughout the day
  • Covering any cuts, scrapes, and other wounds immediately with antiseptic and bandages.
  • Wiping down all gym equipment before using it, and using hand disinfectant.
  • Avoid sharing towels and other personal items
  • Washing your towels, don't let them sit in a hamper for a week ! 
  • Wearing rubber shower or patio shoes while in the locker room
By practicing good personal hygiene and covering any exposed wounds, you can dramatically decrease your risk of becoming infected.
Because MRSA is transferred most often through open wounds and small cuts, it's important to keep these areas covered when using gym equipment and when using the locker room at health clubs. Once you've been exposed to MRSA, there may not be many warning signs. While most people develop a rash or experience flu-like symptoms, others do not have any noticeable warning signs., When discovered in its early stages, it can be treated but because the MRSA infection spreads so quickly, for some people it's too late by the time they go to a hospital. Unfortunately, MRSA mimics flu symptoms, which is common during colder months because more people tend to stay indoors and close to each other. In order to protect their members, health clubs have begun spending more in gym equipment and locker room maintenance in order to keep MRSA from affecting their business.
Many health clubs have switched to hands-free equipment such as sensor monitored hand driers, sanitary wipes that have anti-bacterial properties. This includes making sure all equipment, locker rooms, towels, and other items in the clubs are safe to use. However the costs is much lower than what a health club would pay if shut down, and hiring a professional HAZMAT crew to clean the facility. While most cleaning methods are 99.9% effective, they are still allowing 19,000 deaths and 90,000 cases of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus per year and growing. Staphylococcus aureus is a group of bacteria that live on the surface of people's skin and inside the nose.  This group of bacteria can be spread quite easily from person to person through contact.
Problems occur if Staphyloccocus aureus bacteria are able to enter the body through a cut or wound. Most healthy people have strong immune systems and are able to fight off a Staphylococcus aureus infection themselves and have only mild symptoms. However, people with weakened immune systems or who have undergone sugery can develop more serious problems. In extreme cases, it can result in death.
People with weakened immune systems who have been infected with Staphylococcus aureus require treatment with antibiotics to help clear the infection. The concern with MRSA strains of bacteria is that they are resistant to a number of the antibiotics that are normally used to treat Staphylococcus aureus infections. Because MRSA is resistant to a number of different antibiotics, it is harder to treat than non-resistant bacteria. However, MRSA is not resistant to every antibiotic and most strains of MRSA can still be treated.
So where did MRSA come from? Well MRSA has appeared for three reasons: the widespread use of antibiotics, in our food, and the population, genetic selection and our dislike of taking pills. Bacteria are constantly evolving. So, some of the bacteria will have more resistance to certain antibiotics. So, when the weaker bacteria encounter that antibiotic, they are killed, but the more resistant ones take longer to die. If these more resistant bacteria are not killed off, they will survive and multiply. Their "off-spring" will have a resistance to this  antibiotic, and further changes to their genes will mean that some will be even more resistant to the next antibiotic. Over time this combination of bacterial genetic change and our dislike of taking pills has resulted in strains of Staphylococcus aureus that are resistant to many of today's antibiotics. Normally these strains are resistant to just one or two antibiotics but, as in the case of MRSA, they can be resistant to more. This is why doctors always tell us to finish the whole bottle of antibiotics when we are prescribed them.

The antibiotic will rapidly kill off the weaker bacteria and we will start to feel better. Then, often and I know I have, we stop taking the antibiotic at this point. What happens is, the stronger bacteria will survive and mutate to become more antibiotic resistant and could produce more drug-resistant "offspring". For this reason, the medical community thinks that this can all be avoided if we take the whole course of antibiotics in the first place. By taking all the tablets, all the bacteria (including the more resistant ones) should be killed off and no unwanted off-spring can be produced.

So first, cover your cuts in the gym, and use the sanitizers. If there are no available sanitizers, join another gym. It's obvious cleanliness is not their first priority. If you do get an infection, whatever you do don't ignore it. MRSA starts like a tiny pimple! Follow your Doctor's recommendations and always finish your pill regimen. I know I will from now on. Because as you can see it's not only for  your good health, but for the health of everyone else who uses antibiotics. Good Luck...

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