MRSA epidemic of hard-to-treat bacterial infections

“Superbugs” they’re called.

A friend of mine passed away who was also a member of the extended family. The National Instutes of Health published a study that the residence of a person known to have a MRSA infection should be decontaminated. The Center for Disease Control calls the spread of MRSA an epidemic.

Yet…neither the hospital where this person died nor the local health department did anything to even warn the relatives of the hazard of entering this person’s apartment. The NIH study found contamination on dogs and cats, on a floor mop, on bed linen, and on the TV remote control (but I’m sure that’s not all they found.

The issue here is whether you agree that in such a case the apartment should be quarantined until decontaminated for the sake of the family who entered it already and for the next tenant to move in there. (The CDC says the bacteria can survice for weeks.

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I have worked in a hospital lab in the microbiology department for 34 years (6 in North Carolina and 28 in Northern Illinois) and I am still working.

I’ve never heard of any need to “decontaminate” a home for MRSA, which stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

At work, we wipe our counters and other surfaces down with a bleach cleaner, and we also wear gloves.

In a home, it’s important to keep surfaces clean, but I don’t think any special “decontamination” would be necessary. Just regular cleaning, using a good bleach cleanser (the phenols are not effective against MRSA, so Lysol without bleach is kind of a waste of time). Wash the towels, washcloths often, and bed-lines at least once a week–most of us already do this kind of cleaning.

The MAIN cleaning a person should do is to themselves! HAND WASHING with soap and water this is the best way to prevent infections with bacteria and viruses.

Some people swear by the hand-sanitizers, but I can’t use them because they dry my hands so badly that they crack, and broken skin is an invitation for MRSA and other bacteria and viruses to move on in! So cover any cuts and keep them scrupulously clean with soap and water!

Also, use moisturizers to prevent broken skin that happens when skin gets itchy and dry and people scratch it to relieve the itch. This is especially important for older people.

WEAR SHOES!!! Older people especially should be extremely careful of their feet, which can get dry and cracked easily and be an entry for bacteria. Usually this bacteria isn’t MRSA, but various Streptococci, including Strep. pyogenes (Strep Group A), which is the same Strep that causes “strep throat.”–this is also a very bad bacteria, but thankfully (and mysteriously!) it’s still sensitive to many antibiotics. Shoes or grippy socks should be worn in the house.

But you’re never going to be able to rid your environment of all bacteria, no matter how much cleaning and sanitizing and glove-wearing that you do!! Don’t even try to be “germ-free” you can’t, and you’ll just drive yourself and others nuts and probably become immuno-compromised from exhaustion and end up contracting an infection!

Many people carry MRSA in the noses (so don’t pick your nose) or mouths, and there’s nothing you can or SHOULD do about this–our mouths especially are TEEMING with many many types of bacteria, and to try to “sterilize” the mouth would be an invitation for more dangerous organisms to take the opportunity (hence they are called "opportunists) to move on in and take over (e.g., various yeast species, which cause thrush and other painful infections that are harder to treat).

So don’t even try to “de-germ” your house or yourself. Just use the same common sense cleaning that your mom taught you–wash your hands often, and keep a clean house.

I would like to suggest a return to wearing gloves at church. When I was a little girl, we always wore white gloves to church, and didn’t take them off to shake hands. It probably helped us avoid catching colds. So consider it if you are a person who gets sick a lot.

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By the way, one very common MRSA infection that we see is on the wrists and inner arms. This happens because people rest their arms on the chair arms, which may have MRSA that was left there by pets, especially dogs. Again, there’s nothing you can do about it–you can’t shampoo your furniture every hour, and Lysol sprays won’t kill MRSA. and may leave your furniture “wet” which is a great breeding ground for bacteria! The best thing you can do is keep your dog off your furniture, and vacuum regularly. And wash those hands and forearms (the way your dad use to wash his hands after a hard day’s work in the fields!).

Finally, keep in mind that most of healthy people do not contract bacterial infections easily–the body is usually very good at fighting off bacteria using our God-given immunity. But if you are immuno-compromised in any way–cancer, a bad cold, exhaustion (e.g., from being up during the night with a young baby), Diabetes Type II (these people are really susceptible to bacterial infections, and often due to the poor circulation caused by diabetes, their wounds are difficult to treat and often don’t heal for months or even years), HIV-positive, etc.–BE EXTRA CAREFUL and follow the advice of your doctor when it comes to washing hands and possibly wearing gloves when in an unknown enviroment.

Hope this is helpful coming from a microbiologist!


Hand washing, hand washing, hand washing.
And gloves to handle blood and body fluids.


Thanks so much for all that information, Peeps :slight_smile:

Great thought about the white gloves! If I wear gloves and sneeze into them, could I then take them off and still safely shake hands?

MRSA is no joke. A buddy of mine from work was infected a while back. He was/is a super healthy dude in his mid-30s and it nearly killed him.

Peeps or anyone else who may be able to answer this question: how can we protect ourselves against it in the gym? I wipe down all my equipment before and after I use it with the antibacterial wipes they have. Is this enough or is there anything else I can do to prevent infection?

My ex wife got an MRSA infection in her leg. It was brutal, and she had to get intravenous antibiotics every day for a couple of weeks. Of course that had the awful side effect of wiping out all her gut bacteria.

A few years before that she’d gone in for major surgery, and entire wing of the hospital was sealed off due to an MRSA outbreak. It did not fill me with confidence. One of the nurses told me it’s just the reality in hospitals now, and she said all they can do is mitigate.

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Scary! I’m glad she pulled through!!

The scary part is it just happened from an infected hair follicle. Nine times out of ten it would be a simple infection that just keeping clean would probably fix. But you get the nasty staph variant, and suddenly it’s a medical emergency.

I’m a retiredMed Tech. Wiping down the gym equipment is a very good practice. One thing I would check is if the sanitizer they provide has bleach as an ingredient. If not, purchase your own if the gum allows it. Bleach solutions tend to degrade rubber over time so they may not. All you can do in that case is use their products but be sure to shower after using the equipment.

If you have any open wounds…even small ones…that touch the equipment, be sure to have them covered and wash them after. MRSA is a nasty bug but we shouldn’t live in fear of it. Use common sense and good cleaning practices. There are good bacteria and bad bacteria. The good ones help keep the bad ones off of you and while the stories of MRSA infections are scary, they tend to be rare and usually involve someone in an immunodepressed state…even if temporarily.

When I first started working in the lab, we wore no gloves, we pipetted with our mouths and wore no eye protection BUT we washed our hands like crazy! We even had to fight at first to get gloves in the lab as they were expensive…until the studies showed the hidden costs of not using them :joy:. Contamination from our job was really rare and still is a very safe profession now that we are using standard protections!


I don’t know. I will say, my condolences for your loss. I had a friend of mine, who was quite a bit older, sometimes I called him Pop, that was a cancer survivor, and diabetic that contracted MRSA and ended up dying. I don’t know much about it, but I know it’s a very serious thing, so those of y’all that know about this, have at it and please help our friend here.

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Thanks for the info. I’ll check out the wipes they provide and sneak in some Clorox wipes from home if need be. :stuck_out_tongue:

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As my father used to say, only half-jokingly, you have to be strong and in good health if you’re a hospital patient. The hospital, for all its sterilization, is teeming with germs, from both patients and visitors, some of which, I’m sure, we haven’t even identified yet. I once went to visit a friend in the hospital, only briefly, and wound up with a stomach virus, which I generally never get, together with a few other of his visitors. And I was in good shape otherwise. Also, I recall once I went to the eye doctor just for a regular check-up and, along with several other patients, contracted a bad case of conjunctivitis (pink eye). As essential as they are when you need them, be careful of hospitals and doctors’ offices! And, as Peeps cautions us, practice regular good hygiene, especially diligent hand-washing.

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I agree with all of this.

I also think that if you have an open wound, it might be a good time to exercise outdoors instead of in a gym, just to protect others as well as yourself.


We’re currently having an outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) here in Northern Illinois, specifically in one county which I won’t name (you can probably google it).

So one more thing that I know some of you are not going to be happy to hear–unless there is a medical reason to avoid, then get yourself and your children vaccinated according to the schedule that your doctor advises. Protect yourself and your children from infections that years ago, were killers, and still could be depending on your immunological strength! But don’t count on “natural foods” or “homeschooling” or any other “homegrown remedy” to ward off infectious disease. Use the good tools that God has allowed our scientists to discover from His good creation.

Last week, every day I ran the pertussis sample (dozens every day), I had at least one positive, and the same thing happened to other techs in our department. All the positives are little ones under age 5. Heartbreaking and I hope the little ones get well and have no debilitating side-effects.


With all due respect, I suggest you do a search on the terms “NIH MRSA” and “CDC MRSA” to see what the national experts advise. Maybe also try “NIH MRSA study” to get the short report that recommends decontamination. (see below)

The CDC gives simple guidance for decontamination using a product which explicitly refers to effectiveness against Staph. Aureus – such as at least one Lysol product.

I like to go to the top level public health experts rather than relying on “this” nurse or “that” lab tech. I started this topic to expose a health problem and how little even “the experts” seem to be concerned about it.

People SHOULD be made aware ot the dangers.

here’s the link to the NIH article which says that decontamination of a residence should be considered

As far as hospitals and doctors offices are concerned, they are very concerned about it. You might be surprised at the cleaning protocols of hospitals. They do everything in their power to contain and eliminate contamination! The problem is that germs are everywhere. You want to know what’s disgustingly filthy? Money and cell phones…or anything handled a lot that doesn’t get washed.

People are a big problem, too. Hospitals have signs warning anyone sick to either stay away or wear a mask. During flu seasons, our children’s hospital disallows visitors except for mother and father and often, they have to gown up to visit their child…and people get really mad at the hospital for doing this.

I don’t think it’s fair to say experts aren’t concerned or doing everything they can to deal with superbugs. MRSA isn’t the only one. My father contacted VRE (vancomycin resistant entercocci) and died after his bypass surgery. Tuberculosis is coming back with resistance to many usual treatments.

We can cure an amazing number of bacterial infections nowadays but these bugs evolve resistance and we can’t stop that. It’s why your doctor tells you to be sure and finish all your drugs and call if you don’t improve. Be aware and be clean. Stay as healthy as you. Follow doctors orders. Wash your hands a lot. The health profession is doing as best they can, often in a race with bugs…that we sometimes lose, unfortunately.

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Very sorry for the loss. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord!

The virtue of prudence. I pray for it.

I had a stem cell transplant - very similar to a bone marrow transplant. As I shuffled along the hospital corridors, I saw a strobe light flashing in one of the empty rooms. I asked. It was a specialized bandwidth of light which killed the C-Difficile (“C-Diff”) bacterium, which can be fatal, particularly to the elderly and immune compromised.

So here I was walking past with zero immune system, my marrow having been killed intentionally for the sake of the transplant. I have fairly extensive medical experience, but no medical training. But even to me it seemed like an unreasonable risk to take.

Thereafter I took a different route.

I absolutely agree with you that people should be made aware of the dangers of developing resistance of bacteria.

I also agree with you about consulting top-level public health experts. That’s exactly who my hospital system’s Infectious Prevention Department (formerly known as Infection Control) does–consult and interpret the scientific papers published by the research facilities.

Our Infection Prevention Department is staffed by a committee including three doctors (M.D.s) who are Infectious Disease Specialists, two R.N.s who specialize in Infection Prevention, the Supervisor of the Microbiology Department, and the Head of Pharmacy, who is a Pharm. D.

These experts are responsible for directives that go to the entire hospital system, including our Cancer Hospital, which treats the most immuno-compromised patients. All departments and personnel follow the directives of the Infection Prevention Department, and those employees who do not comply will be disciplined, and if there is still no compliance, their employment will be terminated.

At this point in history, hospital personnel are not allowed to use phenol products to de-contaminate our surfaces, benches, equipment, etc. We use products that contain bleach, because bleach is effective against Clostridium difficile, while the phenol products are not effective in killing C.diff.

Yes, it’s possible that disinfectants that contain phenol and no bleach will kill MRSA and other non-resistant Staph species, and perhaps this will be adequate for a home de-contamination.

But in the hospital workplace, we need to kill ALL the bacteria and viruses, or at least make a really good effort to do so. Hence my comment about using products that contain bleach.

And bleach is cheap–straight bleach is one of the cheapest products in the store.

The article that you provided a link for was interesting, and I think they’ve nailed it. Many of our patients with infections come from less-than-sanitary home situations, or are homeless. Cleanliness is definitely a way to prevent many different types of infections.

In my original post, I was especially referring to these local experts you refer to, that they should advise the families of person’s with such proven infections about the need for decontamination of a residence. It’s not bleach in a medical lab that my post was concerned with, or with the use of phenol.

I posted this under “social justice” to suggest that the hospital and local public health department should be actively involved in educating the family about the risks from a living or deceased person in the household – as a matter of moral, if not also legal, obligation.

As far as socio-economics are concerned, only the most wealthy could have a cleaning staff and it would be improbable that routine dusting and vacuuming would be adequate to ensure the eradication of the MRSA danger.

In 2000, I had two endoscopy exams at a smaller community hospital in…well, it doesn’t matter…but there was a fly buzzing around the room before my exam. “Sanitary” is a word that is very misleading, when it comes to microscopic organisms. There’s hardly any of our parish churches anyplace in this country that could be called “sanitary” with all the people that pass through, coughing, etc. of questionable personal hygiene.

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