Opinion Former Article

October is MRSA Awareness Month

MRSA activists in the USA and UK, are calling for world unity from governments, the healthcare industry and community for a greater response to MRSA and other resistant pathogens.

October 2nd 1960 was the day when Professor Patricia Jevons first observed Staphylococcus aureus that was resistant to the antibiotic Meticillin. This new drug, also known as the chemical compound BRL 1241, had been published in the British Medical Journal as a suitable alternative to Penicillin for resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus just a month beforehand (September 3rd 1960). There was some caution reserved in the publication with resistance being shown in lower doses of the drug. Shortly after in February 1961 the British Medical Journal cited Professor Jevons observation of the resistant pathogen that we now know as MRSA.

MRSA soon became endemic in UK hospitals and around the world. Now we are seeing its spread in the wider community. With much more virulent strains of other "superbugs" evolving we wonder what the next decade will bring.

In the UK healthcare professionals promoted awareness at the annual Infection Prevention Society Conference in Harrogate last week (25-28 September).
Steve Owen who lost his father to the superbug ran the Chester Marathon on Sunday 2nd October -World MRSA Day.

Great strides have been made to tackle MRSA and antimicrobial resistance, but there is still more to do if surgery as we know it today is to become safer.

Healthcare providers must all learn to take an active role to be an advocate for patients who do not understand what antimicrobial resistance means to their health – whether it’s in the healthcare facility or at home in the community. MRSA and other resistant pathogens are not only in healthcare. Community facilities and locations can be major reservoirs of resistant organisms like MRSA. Education, for both healthcare providers and the general public, has become critical. Health literacy regarding antibiotic resistance, healthcare associated infections such as MRSA, should be a priority for global public health. MRSA Action UK is a patient advocacy charity who have been affected by MRSA and work with professionals in Infection Prevention and Control to develop information on MRSA and other healthcare associated infections. The organisation holds the NHS England accreditation the Information Standard, which is a quality mark awarded for up-to-date, evidence-based information.

In the USA the MRSA Survivors Network provides advocacy and information for the community, patients and family members. They are dedicated to providing education and raising awareness. On 24 September Jeanine Thomas, MRSA Survivors Network founder and spokesperson held the World MRSA and global C.diff summit to kick-off events for the World MRSA Awareness month of October.
MRSA Action UK are asking healthcare professionals to break the chain of infection and make a pledge during October, and make every day an awareness day:

I will strive to protect my patients and myself from infections and foster a culture of safety. I pledge to:
-        Clean my hands at all the appropriate times, especially before and after patient care
-        Be open to a patient or visitor asking if I have cleaned my hands
-        Encourage my colleagues and patients to clean their hands
-        Use gloves and other personal protective equipment the right way
-        Get an annual flu shot and other necessary vaccines and encourage my patients to do the same
-        Stay home if I feel sick
-        Help prevent antibiotic resistance by understanding when antibiotics are needed and when they are not
-        Know and follow standard and isolation precaution guidelines
-        Identify the infection preventionists in my facility and ask how I can assist them in preventing infections
-        Keep both my patients’ environment and my attire clean
-        Practice safe injection practices: One needle, one syringe, only one time

Source: Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology http://professionals.site.apic.org/get-social/preventing-infections-starts-with-me/

Derek Butler
Chair, MRSA Action UK
Email: derek.j.butler@mrsaactionuk.net
Website: http://mrsaactionuk.net/pottedhistoryMRSA.html
Telephone: 07762 741114

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