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Questions about etiquette
Started by DaveT
Posted: November 22, 2007 at 22:01
I've been fighting relatively mild bout of MRSA for a few months now. Aside from the obvious health issues, I'm finding it straining on my friendships. I socialize less, and when I do go out I have a lot of friends that I'm used to hugging. I've only told my closest friends about my situation, and they seem very understanding, but even casual friends are now commenting about how I'm "always sick now", since I've been telling people not to come too close unless they want to catch "what I've got" (implying a cold or flu).

Then there's the office. I know some staff have noticed how I clean my desk daily, keyboard, phone, etc, and wipe stuff down with bleach solutions and alcohol wipes. We're encouraged to keep our spaces clean, but I'm starting to come off as a bit compulsive. OK, maybe I am now! ;)

What's a good way to friends and co-workers about MRSA?
Re: Questions about etiquette
Reply #1 by ladyk
Posted: November 23, 2007 at 19:04
DaveT -

Good question. Scrutiny. As nasty as the bacteria. How tragic there is this complication added to our affliction. It is this hesitancy of freedom to divulge such a serious threat that affects all humankind. MRSA has demonstrated its ability to take the lives of more people than Aids. Collectively, hiding behind the veil of this dilemma benefits no one and must be lifted or there will be many more sad reunions at the grave sites of the world I’m afraid. MRSA has already impacted so very many people from all places around our world.

Revealing is a decision you have make. In my case personally my frame of mind has been and is to tell as many people as I can from family, friends, acquaintances, grocery store clerks and people in line, to pharmacists and technicians, checkers at the stores who touch after the multitudes pass through their lines during the day, nurses, lab techs, doctors, lawyers, (haven’t seen any Indian Chiefs yet, but I would tell them too) virtually everywhere I go I warn people to protect themselves against MRSA. My opening line: Have you heard about MRSA? Followed by... since you deal with the public all day this is how you can contract MRSA, and this is how best to protect yourself against contraction. I’ve gone back to see large bottles of hand sanitizer gel in many places. My local grocery store has dispensers with towelettes to wipe our shopping cart handles now. No one has ever gone running from me, in fact it is the opposite, everyone within ear shot pays great attention. This has been my experience. You would be surprised how many already know “someone” who has MRSA, and they tell their stories of contraction, infection, etc.

I realize divulging is a personal choice and there are ramifications (unfortunately) in telling others. This is mainly due to lack of knowledge concerning the matter.

Here’s a question for you concerning your friends and co-workers: On a humanitarian level how would you feel and get past knowing you had information that very well may protect another from contraction but due to scrutiny did not divulge? A step further, since you do not know what compromising factors each individual holds private, or in some circumstances is unknown to the individual, and upon contraction this results in a fatal outcome for another?

Because of the resistance of many who have such concerns divulging this affliction (which I believe are legitimate) MRSA remains under the veil “across the board” of acknowledgement. In comparison how similar to the social dilemma of Leprosy (a chronic infectious disease) does MRSA come? One grand fact in all this is we are innocent in our infection status. Two reasons this affliction has roared out of control is... lack of acknowledgement which in turn if otherwise would have created precautionary measures so others would be informed how best to protect themselves against this deadly bacteria, and secondly we are the human host for this bacteria. If the word was out many would be taking great precautions to avoid contraction and contain the spread of MRSA.

A very real dilemma is your employment. There are places where employees have been removed from their work place until contraction risk is minimized. They accomplish this by requiring three consecutive negative nasal cultures before one is able to return to work. This truly frustrates me, since we know such cultures are ‘known’ to render false negative and false positive results. But the standard is set regardless.

How I’d handle your situation... when all other avenues seems flawed, and in order to protect yourself financially, it seems plausible to say “a friend” has informed you they have MRSA. Have they ever heard of MRSA? Since you researched MRSA you have found how easily this bacteria is contracted, hence your in office cleaning practices. This is your platform to tell them what you know about MRSA, and how they can protect themselves. Statistically speaking I believe there are people at your place of employment who already know about MRSA, and you would be surprised to learn some of them are carriers or infected themselves... if the truth was known, but they are afraid to divulge they have MRSA too. Put hand sanitizer gel in the break room, at your desk, etc. encourage others to use it to protect themselves, and tell them your concerned for yourself and everyone. In your corner as of late the media outlets are reporting on MRSA everyday. Informing is your part it attempting to protect others. Perhaps this will relieve your mind.

Shaking hands as is a custom of men upon meeting is a very risky practice, since our hands give MRSA the legs it needs to infect the multitudes.

Wishing you well.
Re: Questions about etiquette
Reply #2 by Denise
Posted: November 26, 2007 at 16:04
I work from home four days a week & in the office for one day. Since I am sitting at someone else's desk, I carry wipes and disinfect the entire workstation. My co-workers knew how sick I was earlier this year and do not want to get it either. If they do not like you cleaning your workstation - too bad!!

Denise K.
Liberty Township, OH
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