An Emerging Workplace Threat: MRSA

The threat of MRSA, a very nasty resilient infection (which led to the amputation of our father’s leg) is very real.  The cost of having an employee seen by a physician (preferably an occupational health physician) is miniscule compared to potential consequences from an infection.

The following article was in a recent newsletter (Safety Lines, October 2012) put out by Minnesota OSHA.  It was written by Terry Osterbauer, Senior Industrial Hygienist.

A few months ago, Minnesota OSHA received a telephone inquiry from a construction contractor who wondered whether he had to record a first-aid type of injury that had become infected, on his OSHA Form 300 Log of Work-related Injuries and Illnesses. One of his employees had incurred a first-aid type of cut, but the wound would not heal. The worker did not go to the doctor until his arm swelled; at that point, the worker’s arm had to be amputated to save his life because a methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection had developed in the small cut.
MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that has resistance to methicillin and other related antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin. Quite often, humans carry the MRSA bug in the nasal passages and, as long as it stays in the nasal passages, it is not a problem. However, if MRSA gets into even a minor wound, the microorganism can be life threatening.

If a wound won’t heal – especially if the wound holds pus – see a doctor immediately.

Strong antibiotics can stop a MRSA infection.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a very informative Web page about MRSA in the workplace. The Minnesota Department of Health also has MRSA information.

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