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Forum Name: Other infections

Question: MRSA Pneumonia


 joeswife#5 - Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:22 am

My mother just went into the hospital recently and was diagnosed with pneumonia. However a few hours after admission and a test on her phlegm she was diagnosed with MRSA. Before she was put into isolation we, her children and one grandchild, spent several hours in a hospital room with her. She had no visible sores on her so I assume the MRSA is in her lungs. I am concerned because we don't truly know if we were exposed to it or not. She coughed while we were there, but she coverd her mouth and spit into a tissue. She washed her hands after toilet visit. None of us touched her or her tissues. Is there a need for us to be checked for MRSA or is it easily spread from her cough by us just being in the room with her? I have bronchitis at this time and have a cough but I beleive it to be related to that. My husband had the flu and pneumonia last week and I was in close proximity to that. I also have a son in a wheelchair that was not around my mother, but was around me after my visit with her. Should I take any kind of extra precaution for him. He does have some upper respitory problems and I try to be careful with him when it comes even to the common cold.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:00 pm

User avatar Hi there -

Your concerns are understandable, as there is a good deal of confusion about MRSA, how it is communicated and how best to prevent contamination.

Your mother's infection is unfortunate, but is not the most readily exchangable form. While it is prudent and expedient to have visitors gown up for superficial (skin) infections, since the bacteria are living on the surface of the patient, pulmonary MRSA is handled a little more easily, and your mother did the exact correct thing by coughing/spitting into a tissue. This is one of the main measures used to prevent spread of the bacteria, which may colonize but not actually infect other people. Medical attendants who will be in close proximity to a patient for purposes of airway management, etc., should wear a mask. Otherwise, respiratory MRSA is fairly easily managed in terms of contagion.

Since you have a son in a wheelchair, and this puts him at a slightly greater risk of pneumonia in general, some awareness of the potential for sharing of the bacteria is useful, but about all you can do is remember to wash your hands and observe the usual precautions when visiting. So many of us are already colonized it's difficult to realize how widespread MRSA is, vs. actual infections.

I think you should be in fine shape so far. I hope your mother enjoys a full recovery. Best of luck to you and your family.

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