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Don't Be Buggin'

Don't Be Buggin'

I've been hearing a lot lately about some resistant form of staph going around in gyms and some other places. Since I'm HIV-positive, do I need to be more worried about picking up a bacteria like this? Can you recommend any precautions I should take? 'Randy, Los Angeles Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is definitely a downer when it comes to putting in your sweaty time in the gym. In Los Angeles some doctors consider the infection more common than a spider bite. In fact, it's not uncommon for patients to mistake MRSA (often pronounced mersa) infection for a spider bite or an infected pimple. 'People with HIV infection are more susceptible to this type of infection,' says Ewald Horwath of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, but he stresses that people without HIV infection are also at risk. Depending on how weakened your immune system is, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an HIVer could be at risk for a more severe illness from MRSA than someone who is not. And the treatment for MRSA infection can take several days to administer and be invasive. Luckily, there are a few preventive measures you can take to avoid exposure. > The best defense against MRSA in the gym (and elsewhere, since one specific type of location has not played a key role in the bacteria's spread) is simple: Wash your hands and other body parts with soap and running water. Using a chlorhexidine-based antibacterial solution, like Hibiclens, may also reduce skin colonization of MRSA. > Keep your fingers out of your nose, since this is one spot that MRSA often colonizes before spreading to other areas of the body. > If your skin is cut or broken, be especially careful, since this is one common way for the bacteria to get inside your body. Remember, even something simple like shaving or scratching your skin can introduce bacteria. > Using a towel during your workout to create a barrier between anything that touches your skin (a weight bench, for example) provides some additional protection. After your workouts, wash your towels in hot water and always dry them in a hot dryer. > Many gyms provide hand-sanitizer dispensers and alcohol-based sprays or wipes for equipment. Make use of them before and after your training. Page is a certified fitness trainer and journalist. As president of Sam Page Fitness, he operates two private studios in Southern California. He contributes to several national and international magazines and also publishes a weekly e-newsletter from Sam Page Fitness and a daily blog called Peace Love Lunges.
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