MRSA is here on the Suncoast. How do you protect yourself?

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dealing with a dangerous infection as three players are reported to have confirmed cases of MRSA.

It's an infection that can strikes school children, athletes and anybody that may come in contact with it. MRSA can often be mistaken for many lesser infections, and left untreated can possibly kill you.

"It can look like a little pimple on your arm, a lot of people that come to the ER think that they have a spider bite and it turns out to actually be a MRSA infection." Said Marilee Arnold, R.N., Director of Emergency Services at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota

This serious infection of the skin can present itself as little raised area on any part of the body. Arnold explained, "Sometimes it has pus so it starts to drain, sometimes it's hard.  Usually that's the earliest thing that you see."

Infection control practitioner Cindy Stutler said these areas of the body are where MRSA can thrive. "The nose is usually where it's carried in your nose and in your arm pits and in your groin, places where its warm and moist."

You can get it through direct or indirect contact, including gym equipment, chairs and even shopping carts can transmit MRSA if they are contaminated and you come in contact with it. Even other household items that you wouldnt think about may pose a risk for the infection said Stutler. "Using a towel that somebody used, using a razor that somebody used getting in a hot tub where somebody had it, then not washing off afterwards."

"Everyone's at risk for MRSA," said Arnold. "People with open wounds are particularly susceptible, and you could potentially lose an infected limb that's, left untreated." She added, "Worst case scenario your organs could start to shut down, so it could lead to death."

This staph infection that can lead to sepsis, can often be prevented by being vigilant about cleanliness. And, the number one thing you can do to protect yourself is to wash your hands, and practice good hygiene.

And while MRSA may be resistant to many medications, there is hope. "We usually have to use stronger antibiotics to treat a MRSA infection than we would for a standard infection." Said Arnold. "The good news is that caught early MRSA is in most cases is quite treatable with certain antibiotics."

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