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Take Simple Steps to Prevent Wintertime Infections
02/13/2009

CLEBURNE, Texas — In winter months, many people can mistake an infected sore or boil for a spider bite, but because infections can be disguised with similar symptoms it’s important to visit a health care provider if you are unsure.

More than one-third of the U.S. population carries the Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) or staphylococcus aureus (staph) infections, but experiences no symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The national average for nosocomial, or healthcare acquired, infection is 5.5 percent of all hospital admissions. Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne’s rate is 0.09 percent — well below the national average.

Both infections are resistant to antibiotics, which makes the infections harder to treat in those who experience symptoms. According to the CDC, symptoms may include a bump or infected area on the skin that is red, swollen, warm, painful, or accompanied by a fever. A draining wound or one that is full of pus is another indication.

“When in doubt, check it out,” said Carol Olivier, infection prevention practioner at Texas Health Cleburne. “Many people are walking around carrying MRSA or staph without having any adverse effects. But when it comes to these infections, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

The bacteria can be found in public areas where many people gather, such as schools, locker rooms and group homes. The CDC recommends that individuals use good hand hygiene techniques to lessen their chances of a MRSA skin infection. Those techniques are based on these simple steps:

  • Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water or with hand sanitizer frequently;
  • Keep cuts clean and covered until healed;
  • Do not touch any other person’s wounds or bandages; and
  • Do not share personal items, such as towels, clothing or razors.

“Hand washing has been and always will be the best defense,” Olivier said.

Individuals who have a wound associated with MRSA or a staph aureus infection should keep the wound covered and should not share personal items to prevent the spread of the infection.

Individuals who have had or have a wound associated with MRSA or staph aureus infection should inform their physician of it before any surgery or hospitalization.

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/.

About Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne is a 137-bed acute-care, full-service medical center that has served Cleburne and the Johnson County area since 1986. The hospital's services include surgery, women and infant services, urology, orthopedics and ear, nose and throat care.

Texas Health Cleburne has been recently recognized for the Texas Health Care Quality Improvement award from TMF, the 2007 Premier/Carescience Select Practice National Quality Award and the 2007 Premier Award for Quality for Heart Failure. For more information, please call 1-877-THR-WELL.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. Texas Health’s system of 13 hospitals includes Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospitals, Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospitals, and a medical research organization. Texas Health is a corporate member or partner in six additional hospitals and surgery centers. For more information about Texas Health, visit www.texashealth.org.

Doctors on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital.

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