With all the talk about the H1N1 virus, there are some other bugs out there, and we’re not talking about big cockroaches! These bugs can be anywhere: at your home, grocery store, the gym, and your place of work. Because they have developed a resistance to antibiotics, more and more persons are becoming infected with various germs that the antibiotics once knocked out with ease. Helen W. Boucher, M.D., a specialist in the division of infectious diseases at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, says “drug resistant bacteria have developed mainly because of our overuse and misuse of antibiotics, leading us to a crisis point.” She also said that they are seeing bugs today that resist all antibiotics.
Here are a few supergerms that you may not be aware of, and what to do:
- Strains of flu: bird flu, swine flu, and seasonal flu. Get flu vaccines when available, and practice good hygiene, especially washing your hands very often with soap and water. Stay away from crowds when you don’t feel well.
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). There has been much more said about staph infections in the last few years. Staph can be a deadly infection. Athletes need to be careful not to share towels or equipment. In a gym, don’t hesitate to wipe down equipment you plan to use with an antibacterial wipe. Daycare centers and schools may harbor this bug, so teach kids to wash, wash their hands! Any public place you visit, especially hospitals, we caution you to be extra vigilant about what you touch. Most of us carry staph on our skin, without ever developing a problem. Staph causes skin and soft-tissue abcesses. Cover the places and seek medical attention to ensure this infection doesn’t get into your system.
- Clostiridium difficile (C.diff.) This is one that most people don’t know anything about, unless they have worked in a hospital or had a family member that has experienced it. C.diff. is a very aggressive killer of hospitalized patients. Persons who have had a single dose of antibiotics for a sinus or urinary tract infection may come down with this bug, which is a toxic bacteria in the intestines. Bleach is one of the best things to wipe surfaces in order to kill this bug. Hospitals and nursing homes are facilities where this germ thrives. Wash your hands often and don’t touch anything the patient has touched.
One way to help keep your body from becoming antibiotic resistant, is to not take them unless you absolutely have to. Ask your doctor for the shortest course of antibiotics. Be proactive: if you have to take an antibiotic, take a probiotic at the same time to build up the healthy bacteria in your body. Wash your hands the right way. And if you or someone you know is hospitalized, don’t be shy about asking the caregiver to wash their hands, as if their hands are not clean before they put on gloves, the gloves will be contaminated, as well.
Now that we’ve warned you about some of the “little monsters” lurking out there, we hope you have a great day, and a “germ-free” one!