MRSA – Don’t depend on your doctor

May 9, 2008

We tend to put a lot of faith in our doctors, we believe they know they more than we do and have access to greater information and resources. All of which can be true, but I would like to return you to one of the basic principles of good health: you are your own best first resource, certainly in terms of your everyday well-being. The better you take care of yourself, the better able you are to monitor potential illnesses by being aware of the warning signs and paying attention to good old fashioned virtues like getting enough sleep, eating and drinking sensibly, taking regular exercise and finally, and most importantly, not ignoring basic rules of hygiene.

MRSA is now a real problem for all of us, and I was horrified to read that in a recent survey an amazing 1 in 5 GPs admitted that they had poor knowledge of the MRSA superbug and how to treat it. This is not because they are too busy to read the information they are being given, because the other staggering statistic that emerged was that 62% of doctors had not received any information on what to do if they suspected somebody had the bug. As a woman with a long memory, I looked up an item I wrote about four years ago where it was reported on 04 November 2004 that more than one million NHS staff were to get MRSA prevention training, presumably they haven’t got round to the poor old GP’s yet.

As MRSA is usually passed on by human contact, often from our hands, there is the most simple of preventive acts you can take. Supermarket shelves now offer a number of different anti-bacterial and anti-microbial sprays and gels for you to carry with you – and they are a good second stage of protection, but the first is to be totally vigilant about washing your hands. Not just after using the bathroom, but always before you have any contact with food or drink. One of most common ways to pick up a bug is from using a handrail on a staircase in a public area such as the underground, on a bus or in a theatre – most people either hold on as they walk up and down, or just touch it lightly for extra balance and security. That is where bugs can be passed – not by direct contact with someone else but the indirect contact from the skin of the hands.

It’s not rocket science, it’s what we were taught as children, but regularly and thoroughly washing your hands it could help prevent you being affected by a very unpleasant bug indeed.


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