A new study finds a way for people to reduce their risk of developing a dangerous superbug infection after leaving the hospital
Think of it as disinfecting yourself. Hospital patients who house certain superbugs can reduce their risk of developing complete infections if they stick out medically infected eggs and use special soap and mouthwash for six months after returning home, a study found.
It is a low-tech approach to a major problem: about 5 percent of patients have MRSA – antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria – which lurk on their skin or in their noses, making them at high risk of developing an infection while recovering from a disease or surgery. These can affect the skin, heart, brain, lungs, bones and joints, and most countries return people to hospital.
The hygienic steps that researchers have taken have reduced that risk by almost a third.
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"It is a very simple solution: you do not have to swallow medicine, you just have to clean the outside of your body for a short while," said Dr. Susan Huang of the Irvine School of Medicine at the University of California. She led the federally funded study, published on Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.
Much has been done to curb infections in hospitals and the focus shifts to what happens after patients have left.
Nine US states – California, Washington, Nevada, Minnesota, Illinois, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maine, and New Jersey – require hospitals to test MRSA's most vulnerable patients, such as those in intensive care. Many other places do it voluntarily.
The study included more than 2,000 patients in Southern California hospitals who appeared to have MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Everyone was given information about ways to prevent infections, and the other half also received special products – mouthwash, liquid soap with an antiseptic and an antibiotic ointment to take in the nose. They were told to use it from Monday to Friday, every other week for six months.
A year later, 6 percent of people in the deep-clean group had developed an MRSA infection against 9 percent of the others. They also had fewer infections from other germs. According to doctors, 25 to 30 people should be treated to prevent one case.
There were no serious side effects; 44 people had dry or irritated skin and most people continued to use the products.
Heather Avizius was one. The 41-year-old nanny has had MRSA infections in the past and entered the study after serious complications from Crohn's disease, which she landed at St. Jude Medical Center, Fullerton, California, eight years ago.
"I took the regime very, very seriously" and has not had MRSA since then, she said. "I felt cleaner and safer" and less worried about spreading germs to her children, she said.
Almost half fell early in the study or could not be found for follow-up.
"Many people may think," I feel good, I do not really have to do this "," said Dr. John Jernigan of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the risk does not end as you are home once & # 39; & # 39 ;.
Federal subsidies paid for the products. They would cost US $ 150 to $ 200 for six months, Huang said. The antiseptic soap was a 4% chlorhexidine solution that is sold in many drug stores.
Other soaps, even with the name antibacterial, "may not have the active ingredients to remove MRSA," says Dr. Robert Weinstein, another research leader and an infection specialist at Cook County Health and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
It is worth it for patients to do what they can to prevent MRSA infection, he said.
"You left the hospital, you do not want to return."