Saturday, November 03, 2007


A towel on the rack means ‘I’ll use it again.’

A towel on the floor means ‘Please exchange.’

This policy has been adopted by nearly all hotels in the past few years and I've recently come to be convinced that it's dangerous and ill-advised. The reason: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

There are two types of MRSA, Hospital Acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA) and Community Acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA). Of the two, HA-MRSA is the most deadly and the most common. If you are unlucky enough to get Hospital Acquired MRSA, you have a 60% chance of leaving the hospital in a body bag.

Recently, Community Acquired MRSA has started to make the news in a Big Way.

This is new. HA-MRSA has been health care's dirty little secret for decades. It was mostly contained because hospitals tend to literally bury their dirty little secrets.

How can you protect yourself from MRSA? For one thing, stay out of hospitals. That's half the solution. That takes care of HA-MRSA. As for CA-MRSA, the Mayo Clinic has several suggestions, including:
Sanitize linens. If you have a cut or sore, wash towels and bed linens in a washing machine set to the "hot" water setting (with added bleach, if possible) and dry them in a hot dryer.
In other words, "a towel on the rack" really means "You don't know where I've been."

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