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Relatives, survivors and infection prevention professionals mark World MRSA Day, 55 years after the superbug’s discovery

October 2nd is World MRSA Day. The late Doctor Patricia Jevons viewed the micro-organism under the microscope for the first time 55 years ago on 2nd October 1960 in a Laboratory in Colindale, London.  Outbreaks followed in hospitals in the South East and MRSA was soon endemic in hospitals across the UK and then became pandemic spreading across the globe.  Dr Jevons discovery was published in the British Medical Journal on January 14th 1961, acknowledging the significance of the find and its evolution, believed to from a patient’s skin lesion tested in the previous July.

These events have highlighted the importance of going back to the basics of asepsis and good hygiene to prevent infection rather than rely on our precious reserves of antimicrobials to cure the problem.

Meticillin was formulated in response to resistance to penicillin and we now need to learn from the lessons of history to preserve antimicrobials, the golden bullets that make pioneering surgeries safe.  Without antimicrobials heart operations, cancer surgery, operations to restore sight, surgery to replace hips and knees, and other pioneering techniques would almost certainly lead to patients getting life threatening infections and not be able to benefit from these advances.

MRSA Action UK marked the significant date this year by asking Infection Prevention colleagues to join them in making pledges to reduce the harm caused to patients by the superbug. The annual Infection Prevention Society Conference held in Liverpool reached audiences across the world through social media and web broadcasts.

MRSA Action UK and MRSA Survivors’ Network in the USA are calling on Governments’ worldwide to take action to screen for the resistant pathogen and introduce better facilities for isolating patients.  The UK has been successful in reducing the numbers of bloodstream infections from MRSA in UK hospitals, this needs to be extended now and surveillance of surgical site infections, catheter, urinary tract and skin infections should be measured in the same way so that we can continue to reduce the numbers of people affected, and sadly lost to many of these avoidable infections.

There are significant numbers of MRSA bloodstream infections recorded outside of the hospital setting in the UK now, 70% are in the community setting.  The USA has significant problems with community acquired MRSA, so Chicago based MRSA Survivors’ Network are asking for rapid screening to identify strains so that remedial action can be taken to halt the spread in both community and healthcare settings. Screening saves lives, as does strict adherence to hand hygiene between patients, decontamination of the environment and implementing antimicrobial stewardship.

What the general public often do not realise is the significant role they can play in helping to reduce the chances of resistant pathogens like MRSA evolving and spreading.  As individuals we can make sure we do not demand antimicrobials from our doctor if we have a more minor ailment that can be alleviated with pain-killers, drinking plenty and resting, such as coughs and colds.

MRSA is not the only resistant pathogen that can make us unwell and we can all help to reduce the spread of bacteria that each of us carries on our skin by frequent handwashing, using the right technique, and good hygiene around the home, in schools and the workplace.  We can also help when visiting people in hospital by always washing hands on entering the ward and when leaving.  It is important not sit on beds or the patient’s chair as bacteria that causes us no harm may be carried on clothing and can cause problems if transmitted to the vulnerable patient.  Do not visit if you have been unwell with coughs, colds or tummy upsets; wait until 48 hours after your last symptoms.

MRSA Action UK is a registered charity formed by families who have suffered from or lost someone to MRSA and works to promote awareness of the infection and how to prevent it.  The Charity was formed in 2005 and works in partnership with healthcare providers, government agencies, the Department of Health and other patient groups and charities, responding to policies on preventing infections and antimicrobial resistance.  The Charity provides support and advice to patients and their families if they are worried about MRSA or other healthcare associated infections.  MRSA Action UK has a strong allegiance with MRSA Survivors Network in the USA.  Jeanine Thomas, founder and spokesperson for MRSA Survivors Network is the founder of World MRSA Day and the two patient advocacy groups aim to get global recognition of this significant date in the world’s war against constantly evolving superbugs.

Derek Butler said “bacteria have no regard for geographical boundaries, they spread with ease and at will, it is only by working together across these boundaries that we will defeat these bacteria.  Past history has shown that Governments working collaboratively defeated Smallpox, given the same commitment the same can be achieved with the alarmingly rising trend in multi-drug resistant bacterial infections and colonisation”

If your organisation wishes to commemorate World MRSA Day, or you would like to get involved in holding an awareness event or a service of remembrance in the UK during October, then please email Derek Butler at derek.j.butler@mrsaactionuk.net or telephone 07762 741114. To get involved with events in the USA email Jeanine Thomas at jthomas@mrsasurvivors.org

MRSA Action UK
http://mrsaactionuk.net
07762 741114

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