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Treatment of MRSA and C difficile

Hospital infection guide - swab testing in a lab
If you would like to know about MRSA treatment, or C.difficile treatment, the following information will be of interest.


If a patient has suspected MRSA, or an SA infection, either a swab from the patient's skin or nose, or a sample of urine or spit will be examined.  In private hospitals all patients admitted to private hospitals from another healthcare facility will be screened for MRSA (a swab from the nose usually) and if the patient is an MRSA carrier the procedure may be deferred or the patient will be nursed in strict isolation to reduce the possibility of transmission to healthcare staff or other patients.  If SA is found more laboratory tests will be done to see if the methicillin antibiotic will kill the bacteria but if methicillin doesn't work, the bacteria will be identified as MRSA and further tests will establish which drugs should be used to treat the patient. 


It used to be possible to treat SA infections with antibiotics similar to methicillin, but over the past 50 years or so certain types of SA have developed into 'super-strains' which do not respond to methicillin or other antibiotics.  However, health experts confirm that for most strains of MRSA treatment is by use of antibiotics through injection or intravenous drip.  For the one in three people who is 'colonised' (carrying MRSA harmlessly) it is advised that the bacteria is rid to reduce the risk of spreading MRSA to people who are ill by washing the skin and hair with antiseptics and applying antibiotic cream to the skin or inner nose. 


It is difficult to diagnose C. difficile on symptoms alone so a sample of diarrhoeal faeces is tested for the presence of the C. difficile toxins, providing a result within a few hours.  C. difficile can be treated with specific antibiotics and most cases make a full recovery.  The Health Protection Agency report a risk of relapse in 20-30% of patients and in these cases other treatments may be tried including pro-biotic (good bacteria) treatments with the aim of re-establishing the balance of flora in the gut. 


The HPA surveillance programme showed that type 027 is the second most common strain of 881 samples received and three other strains (106, 027, and 001) were in roughly equal proportions across England and accounting for approximately 75% of the cases detected during the sampling period.  The strain of C.difficile 027 can be treated with antibiotics, as can the other types.  Once someone has recovered from C. difficile they are not a risk to others even if they continue to carry C. difficile in their stool provided they observe the normal personal hygiene precautions and always wash their hands after visits to the bathroom.

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