Help me not get MRSA.
August 11, 2012 5:25 PM   Subscribe

How do I avoid getting MRSA while I help my infected daughter and grandson?

My daughter and her son are being treated for MRSA. The antibiotic she's taking is making her feel horribly ill, and she needs help with her 2 small children. Her husband is a firefighter and won't be home till Tuesday.

I want to take every precaution to avoid getting infected. Her son has been on antibiotics for 6 days, and she started hers yesterday. I haven't found any info on whether or not they're contagious now.

I would appreciate any insight or personal experience. Please help allay or validate my fear of getting this infection. Although I want to help her, I am diabetic and am concerned about complications should I get MRSA.

posted by Linnee to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Aw, I'm so sorry about your daughter and grandson. The CDC's standard precautions for MRSA are here. You're right to be concerned, but if you're just performing standard "comfort" care (in other words, no medical-type work on them), I think you're gonna be relatively safe. Wash your hands CONSTANTLY, possibly consider latex gloves if you're gonna touch them (although I personally think religious handwashing would PROBABLY be sufficient), don't use clothes/linens that they've used, etc. Bear in mind that most MRSA transmission is bodily-fluid-to-skin/mucous-membrane: you're not likely to get infected by breathing the same air as them, but you DO want to be super-duper careful where any of their excretions are concerned.
posted by julthumbscrew at 5:36 PM on August 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

IANAMD!!! But, I have worked in hospitals with patients with MRSA. So, check with your doctor before taking my advice!

The level of precaution might depend on where the infection is (IIRC, MRSA can be local.) So if it's in a wound, be sure you are not caring for the wound, that you do not come into contact with bodily fluids, and you should be okay so long as you wash your hands well before you enter the house and before you leave. The CDC guidelines linked to by Julthumbscrew is excellent.

You might want to consider having a change of clothes (such as a housecoat, shoes or shoe covers, pants, maybe a hat) that you wear ONLY at your daughter's house (presuming you are not staying there.) The procedure might be: go to her house, change into your clean cover clothes in a garage or vestibule, help out around the house, then remove the clothes by taking them off and turning them inside out as you take them off, and immediately stuff them in a plastic bag. Wash hands, leave, and launder in hot water immediately and dispose of the plastic bag (or, keep the the clothes at your daughter's house). Repeat. This way, your own clothes are never in direct contact with MRSA. When your daughter and grandchildren are better, you can dispose of the clothes.

You may want to consider a face mask if one of them has a cold or allergies and is sneezing. This might be extreme, but you might also want to consider goggles if they are sneezing a lot, have runny noses, etc (to minimize airborne infection to your eyes, mouth, and nose).
posted by absquatulate at 5:54 PM on August 11, 2012

If you are doing diaper changes on the small children (even the one who's not sick), consider gloves. You can get a box of "exam gloves", the same type used in hospitals/doctor's offices, at any drugstore.
posted by shiny blue object at 6:34 PM on August 11, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all for your replies.
posted by Linnee at 7:24 PM on August 11, 2012

I know nothing about MRSA or its prevention, but if in your question you say your daughter has three kids, one with the infection and two other small ones, how about considering taking the two small ones to your house for a few days to keep them and you from getting it and to help your daughter.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:53 PM on August 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I had a staph infection that turned out not to be MRSA, but there was a period of uncertainty where I was given a "MRSA care kit" at my doctor's office. Something it included that I don't see in the CDC link was Hibiclens wash. I gather that it's basically just a strong disinfecting body wash of some sort. I was supposed to get wet and lather it all over my body, especially in crevices (under breasts and buttocks, armpits, groin), let it sit for a few minutes, and then shower it off. Looks like you can get Hibiclens for about $10 at your average drugstore. I honestly don't know if this is a good recommendation or not because I have no medical background whatsoever, but if you're in the mood for "every precaution", this is an option to consider. It definitely made me feel better about taking precautions to not spread the infection.
posted by ootandaboot at 9:54 PM on August 11, 2012

Hibiclens is an anti-microbial soap often used before surgery. I have hidradenitis suppurativa (infected apocrine sweat glands) and when I suffer a breakout, I use Hibiclens every other shower on the affected areas, and have suffered no ill effects.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:03 PM on August 11, 2012

To further absquatulate's point about laundering clothes in hot water after wearing them once at your daughter's'd want to make sure to dry them in the dryer too on hot. It helps reduce the bacterial load.

Don't touch your face, eyes, etc when you're over there.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:37 AM on August 12, 2012

Our baby tested positive for MRSA in the NICU, so we had to wear disposable aprons over our clothes and gloves. We also got a prescription for a special disinfecting wash (ed - Hibeclans!) from the doctor that we could use on ourselves for seven days, but she got better soon enough and they pretty much implied that the wash was overdoing it.

There's a big difference between being colonized and infected and different strains of MRSA. Most of us have been exposed to community MRSA, we're just healthy enough to shrug it off. Unless you have a compromised immune system, you are very very likely to go be okay if you follow the guidelines above.

From the NICU, we were already used to the proper handwashing techniques (poster here) but the single easiest thing we did at home at the start was buy big squirt bottles of alcohol-based hand wash (example) at a pharmacy, and put them in each bathroom and room. It made it so much easier and faster to clean up - we still have them in the bathrooms and next to the diaper table now.

Also, the test for MRSA is pretty straightforward as a bunch of swabs from your nose/ear (we were told - we didn't need to be tested in the end, but that's how they tested the baby, plus her white-cell count) and your doctor might be willing to do the test for you after if you feel ill. Lots of people carry the MRSA bacteria around unknowingly without getting sick - it's the hospital strain at a high load that is worrying.

Keep clean, launder everything, wash/alcohol-rub your hands often and if you or the others are sneezy, wear disposable face-masks (you can draw silly mouths on them for fun) and it is very likely that you will simply be a wonderful helpful grandma with no problems.
posted by viggorlijah at 3:28 AM on August 12, 2012

I had MRSA twice while I lived with my mom who never got it. Don't share towels or linens. Wash your hands. My boyfriend and I both had MRSA and the doctor recommended a week of hibaclens and washing our linens in hot water with bleach to kind of knock it out of the house after we went through antibiotics. It worked and we have been fine since.
posted by rachums at 5:50 AM on August 12, 2012

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