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Outsmart This Scary Germ: Staphylococcus Aureus

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Protect-Yourself Tips

Now for the good news (yes, there is some!): Experts say a few simple strategies will squash CA-MRSA before it has a chance to strike. Here are the most important things you can do to stay germ-free:

  • Shower immediately after a workout. Your home bathroom may seem safer, but if you've come into contact with CA-MRSA at the gym, you should wash it off as soon as possible, says Dr. Fishman. "You don't need a special antibacterial soap -- just make sure to use your own bar (no sharing!) or liquid soap, and wash every fold and crevice," he says.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly. After you use the bathroom or if you're exposed to someone who's sick, scrub your hands for 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Carry alcohol-based wipes or liquid hand sanitizer in your bag. "Alcohol is actually more effective against microorganisms than soap, and you can use it anywhere," says Dr. Fishman.
  • Choose nail salons carefully. Tubs and dishes used to soak nails for manicures and pedicures are rife with bacteria, says Betsy McCaughey, PhD, chair of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID), a nationwide organization devoted to improving hospital hygiene. "Containers should be drenched in detergent and water for three minutes between users, but they seldom are," she says. "Insist that they're cleaned well, or bring your own -- as well as your own cutting tools and files."
  • Wash up after playing with your pet. "There are cases where dogs appear to have been the source of infection," says Dr. Fishman. If you see dry, red patches on your pooch's skin, he may have CA-MRSA. Take him to the vet right away to be examined.

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