By Lagi Keresoma
The bacteria Methicilin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is causing fear within the community after two children died at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole hospital last month.
However, the National Health Services (NHS) Chief Executive Officer, Leota Laki Sio said although the two “deceased had tested positive to the MRSA bacteria, the cause of death have not been confirmed”.
He said there is no reason for the community to panic and he blamed several Government officials who had been circulating emails regarding MRSA as a “deadly virus.”
He said NHS is working together with the Ministry of Health and several international bodies in consultation for a positive remedy, and that awareness programmes and warnings have already been circulated in the community.
The fear has reached schools and several parents have refused to send their children to school for fear of contracting the bacteria. Leota said that the best cure for the bacteria is “cleanliness”.
“Despite all the odds, it comes down to washing hands before eating and after and tending to the bathrooms.”
Dr. Aiga Sesega confirmed that MRSA is contagious. Anyone can get it from shaking hands, through materials used at the hospital or at home or coughing. The bacteria settles on the skin and likes dampen areas of the bodies. She said there is a possibility that there are “more carriers than those infected.”
“Any one can be a carrier,” said Dr. Sesega.
Dr. Francis Maru, Head of the Pediatric ward confirmed the seriousness of the bacteria once someone contracts it.
MRSA can stay on a person for awhile and “once there’s a cut on any part of the body, the bacteria slowly settles into the body and causes the person to be very ill.”
He also confirmed that MRSA “does not respond to the antibiotics currently available in the country.”
“The symptoms are wide ranging,”said Dr. Maru. “It means that it depends on where it settles on the skin and the kind of injury a person might acquire.”
Vaomalo Ulu Kini, Head of the NHS Laboratory said that tests have been conducted but “could not confirm how big the problem is now.”
He said it is not a new bacteria as stated by several reports, but has been around for some time. Dr. Maru confirmed Vaomalo’s comment citing several positive cases in the past.
The hospital is undergoing a major clean up including all facilities. They are also monitoring patients being brought in to be tested for any sign of MRSA.
Leota assures the public that there is no reason to be alarmed, and will keep the public informed if any new developments arise.