MRSA is one bad bug
Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an infection that has been a problem in hospitals for years, is resistant to most antibiotics. MRSA contracted in the community is a different bug and more treatable than its hospital-acquired cousin. Over-the-road professionals can be particularly susceptible to MRSA infections. The key is to treat it early and follow standard procedures:
1. The infected sore/pustule must be opened up. If not opened to fully drain, antibiotics won’t work. Oozing from the sore does not indicate drainage.
2. Treatments must be aggressive until identification is made via a culture that may take a few days or up to a week. Until then, don’t quit taking your pills.
3. Wash your hands every time you pass a sink. Avoid touching the wound. Clean your truck with Clorox wipes. Remember to roll down your window when you do this. Chlorine gas from the wipes in an enclosed space can make you sick.
4. Place all dressings in a plastic bag that can be sealed. Disposal may be difficult, but try to find a hospital or clinic that can accept your contaminated bandages. If on the road, double bag the dressings and place in a covered dumpster. Keep bags away from other people and children. MRSA is very contagious.
5. If you have a sore, make sure to clean your shower and the flat sitting surface. Showers are the most likely place to get an infection, especially if you have an open wound or cracked skin. Wear shower shoes at all times.
6. Clean commode seats with a Clorox wipe if sitting down. Remember, most of the infections we see at PDMD are on the cheek of the buttocks.
7. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment. Wash, wash and wash. Water alone is better than anything you will ever find. Add soap, and you have a deadly force to fight MRSA. If you are found to be colonized, use chlorhexidine solution sold by the trade name of Hibiclens found in most drug stores. Read and follow the directions associated with use of this product.
8. If you see another driver with a large pimple, advise your brother or sister driver that they may have a MRSA and to get it looked at soon, particularly if the lesion is on the face.
9. If you are diabetic, seek medical attention if you have any kind of sore. Diabetics can die from an infection, especially MRSA.
If in doubt about a skin lesion that arises, see your family doctor or a PDMD provider.
Dr. John McElligott is the founder of Professional Drivers Medical Depots (pd-md.com), a planned nationwide network of medical clinics located at truck stops and travel centers.