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Local Doctor Offers Advice For Preventing MRSA In Your Own Home

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - We all know that bacteria and viruses are lurking out there.

But, you may not realize that you can pick up dangerous infections *inside* our own home.

MRSA, for example, can be hiding where you least expect it.

While you think of MRSA as something "out there" -- in schools, or hospitals -- it's actually something you could be harboring in your home.

In a study of children with recurrent MRSA infections, researchers focused on frequently touched surfaces in their homes, such as phones, toilets, and faucet handles.

"You can treat the infection of your skin, but if it's still in your house, you might get re-infected," Dr. Brian Horvath said.

In fact, in 23 of the 50 homes, the most frequently contaminated surfaces with MRSA that genetically matched the infections were bed linens at 18 percent ,TV remotes at 16 percent, and bathroom hand towels at 15 percent.

Twelve percent of dogs and 7 percent of cats had MRSA on them.

KDKA-TV's Dr. Maria Simbra went to the home of Michael Collins, who has had recurrent problems with MRSA similar to MRSA, but responsive to standard antibiotics.

"Every once in a while I'd get these lumps on my arms. Sometimes they'd go away. Other times they'd grow to the size of a baseball. Just painful," Collins said. "I always go over to a friend's house, just pick up the controller, play a game or what not. Never gave that a second thought."

Dr. Simbra checked his household surfaces and even tried to swab the cat, but he ran away. The cultures did not grow any of the bacteria, though.

"MRSA usually causes a very red area, some swelling, there might be some drainage and puss from the spot," Dr. Horvath said. "While it can commonly live on your skin and not cause any problem, sometimes it gets in if you have a small cut or scrape and it can cause a serious skin infection."

There are ways to try to get rid of the bacteria and to prevent it in the first place.

"If someone has repeated MRSA infections, we definitely recommend using an antibacterial wash, like hibiclens or even dial soap, to clean every day in the shower," Dr. Horvath said. "What you don't want to do is share towels between family members. That's how MRSA can spread from one person to another."

It probably doesn't hurt to be careful at your home away from home, either.

"I do have a few frequent travelers who will take some Clorox wipes with them and clean down their hotel," Dr. Horvath said.

MRSA is essentially everywhere, and it doesn't necessarily cause a problem in everyone. But to cut down on potential problems, it may be a good idea to wipe down remotes and other objects multiple people at home hold in their hands.

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