If you’ve heard about the super bug Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA, often pronounced mersa) you know it is antibiotic resistant and extremely difficult to treat in humans infected by it. MRSA originally occurred primarily in healthcare facilities, but recently, more and more people who seem to be healthy and who have not been hospitalized seem to be victims of MRSA. However, there may be something that helps.
According to Reuters, “A new study is investigating whether a tea tree oil body wash can prevent the drug-resistant super bug MRSA in critically ill hospitalized adults.” Participants in the study, which started in November 2007, are washing their hands daily in a 5 percent tea tree oil solution which is then compared against a typical wash, such as Johnson’s Baby Softwash. Results from the study are expected in 2010.
If you’re unfamiliar with tea tree oil, often referred to as melaleuca oil, it has a camphoraceous odor and comes from the leaves of the twisted-trunk tea tree native to Australia. Tea tree oil become popular in the 1920s after reports of medicinal properties surfaced. Many people considered it a potent anti-fungal and it has long been used to treat fleas. However, a number of people have had adverse reactions to it and if used in the ears, it may cause hearing loss.
To keep yourself safe from MRSA, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has undertaken a campaign to educate Americans. For instance, did you know MRSA is acquired through direct contact with an infected person, and, therefore, you should not share any personal items, such as razors or towels? If you are infected, most staph infections first appear as a boil, bump, or pimple on the skin and may be:
- Accompanied by a fever
- Be painful, red, and/or swollen
- Be warm to the touch
- Have drainage or be full of pus
The CDC estimates that in 2005, 94,360 people developed a serious MRSA infection and that approximately 85 percent of these infections were related to healthcare exposure. Of the 94,000 plus people who developed MRSA, 18,650 persons died because of it. If you are interested in learning more about MRSA, you can visit the CDC, by clicking here.