Friday, August 31, 2012

Germ Party

Norah has been feeling crummy for the last few days. She's been a little grumpy, a little restless, and has had some viral-like symptoms. They did a bacterial check of her sputum a few days ago, which I just found out today came back positive for MRSA: Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. Yes, there's a "staph" in that name. The "MR"means that it is resistant to standard antibiotics that treat typical staph infections.

Before anyone freaks out, keep in mind that it's important to read the specifics of the results. If there are just a teeny tiny few little germs in the pitre dish, it would likely be a contaminant. MRSA is actually quite widespread, especially in long-term care facilities. It can be found on clothes, skin, etc. Plus, it lives for a long time. So if an itty bitty fleck of skin made its way into Norah's sputum sample, that could be the cause, and it would mean that the sample was contaminated.

Having a trach means that colonizations of bacteria are sort of par for the course. If you were to swab someone's mouth, you would probably find something similar on a smaller scale. I know, sort of gross, isn't it? Well, since Norah lives in the hospital, it is highly probable that she could get a group of those germs hanging out in a small crowd. This is normal, and doesn't require treatment... just watchfulness. That would be a colonization.

Now, if this little group gets out of control, and starts attacking Norah, this could be an infection. We're talking like Beatlemania proportions here. That is the horrific "staph infection" that most people have heard of. You know - gross wounds or sores that are difficult to treat. Yuck. There is a chance that her trach could become infected in this way, but the stoma (hole) looks too good at the moment to be infected. Well, that's at least my mother's intuition on the subject.

So which is it: contaminant, colonization, or infection? I asked the nurse how much MRSA was found in the sample, and she wasn't sure. I'll know more after my afternoon visit with Norah, but honestly I'm thinking its simply a contaminant or typical colonization. Nothing to worry about. Hopefully.

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