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Infection Control

What is MRSA?

September 19, 2010
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Today, the role of the janitor in a facility is similar to that of doctor to patient.

We know that poor cleaning equals higher risk of contamination.

And, therefore, when cleaning practices are ignored or improperly executed, the public is at risk.

MRSA review
Staph is a common bacterium and if it causes infection in humans, most patients can be successfully treated with common antibiotics.

However, over the years, several strains of staph, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), have become resistant to these antibiotics.

MRSA was first discovered in 1961 and is now immune to methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and many other antibiotics.

Today, MRSA continues to challenge the medical profession, because it is constantly adapting and becoming resistant to more advanced and expensive antibiotics.

What can a professional cleaner do? Plenty.

Janitor on call
Traditionally, when an outbreak occurs in a facility, the cleaning staff is called in to remediate or minimize the problem.

However, what prevention procedures are available to reduce or even cancel a threat of disease, such as MRSA?

In coming years, facility managers and building service contractors will continue to face MRSA outbreaks.

And, now that Community-acquired(CA)-MRSA cases have been reported in facilities other than schools and hospitals, end users in all segments of the industry should be prepared to take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the bacterium.

Reality check: Can MRSA ever be completely eliminated?

“Probably not, as you will always have traffic coming in and out of a building,” notes Taylor Stewart, president of EnvirOx LLC. “But, with proper cleaning procedures, you can make sure that MRSA is eliminated from a surface as quickly as possible.

Reaction and prevention plan
According to Stewart, education is the most powerful tool an end user can have when fighting disease, such as MRSA.

Especially with CA-MRSA, which is primarily spread by infected skin contacting another person’s skin or touching surfaces that have come into contact with infected skin, an understanding of proper procedure is paramount.

“It’s important for individuals to know what MRSA looks like so treatment can begin as soon as possible and the spread contained,” says Stewart. “Second, we suggest implementing a hand-washing education program. Proper hand-washing is the best defense against the spread of all disease. Third, utilize a two-step disinfection process.”

When using a two-step disinfection process, Stewart says, users must first clean and sanitize all surfaces, then follow-up with a disinfectant applied to all critical disease transfer points.

“We believe the two-step process is the only way to fully ensure surfaces have been properly treated. Furthermore, based on recommendations of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), we believe there is no reason to disinfect all surfaces of a facility. You just need to focus on the surfaces that might have been touched by someone with a MRSA skin infection,” advises Stewart.

Keep updated and aware
When dealing with the presence of MRSA and other forms of infection-causing bacteria, awareness is key.

Even if your facility has never experienced a MRSA case, educating building occupants and facility staff is your responsibility.

All end users, regardless of facility type or service, should have a program in place that explains MRSA and how to prevent it.

Use signage in strategic areas, such as restrooms, locker rooms, and athletic facilities, encouraging hand-washing and discouraging sharing personal items, such as towels and razors.

Remember, hand-washing is the first line of defense against bacterial infections.

Implement a cleaning program that uses products and techniques that have been developed to kill MRSA on surfaces.

Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

JanSan manufacturers and suppliers are well-educated on the subject of MRSA.

Utilize their expertise because the more you know about MRSA, the more you can do to prevent infections in your facility.


Send comments or thoughts on this topic or any other article that appears in CM/Cleaning & Maintenance Management® magazine, to rdipaolo@ntpmedia.com.
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