Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics.

"Methicillin" represents the semisynthetic penicillin-related antibiotics including methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin and oxacillin. These resistant bacteria are called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

Causes of MRSA
Ultimately MRSA is caused by bacterium strains that have acquired a resistance to particular antibiotics.

MRSA can spread from person to person (skin to skin contact) and from person to object to person when an individual has active MRSA or is colonized by the bacteria.

Skin to skin contact with someone carrying MRSA is not necessary for infection to spread. MRSA bacteria are also able to survive for extensive periods on surfaces and objects such as door handles, floors, sinks, taps, cleaning equipment and fabric.

Antibiotic resistance

MRSA is the result of often unnecessary antibiotic use. For years, antibiotics have been prescribed for colds, flu and other viral infections that don't respond to these drugs. Even when antibiotics are used appropriately, they contribute to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria because they don't destroy every germ they target. Germs that survive treatment with one antibiotic soon learn to resist others.

Health care associated MRSA

Most MRSA infections occur in people who've been in hospitals or other health care settings, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers. When it occurs in these settings, it's known as health care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA). HA-MRSA infections typically are associated with invasive procedures or devices, such as surgeries, intravenous tubing or artificial joints.

People most at risk of developing health care-associated MRSA in the hospital include those that have
  • Weakened immune systems
  • Open wounds
  • A catheter or intravenous drip inserted
  • Burns or cuts to the skin surface
  • Severe skin conditions
  • Had surgery
  • Frequent antibiotics as part of their treatment.
Community associated MRSA

Another type of MRSA infection has occurred in the wider community among healthy people. This form, community associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), often begins as a painful skin boil. It's spread by skin to skin contact. At risk populations include groups such as high school wrestlers, child care workers and people who live in crowded conditions.

The 5 Cs of the factors make it easier for MRSA to be transmitting

Contact (skin-to-skin)
Compromised skin (open wounds)
Contaminated (items and surfaces)
Cleanliness (lack of).

Symptoms of MRSA

The signs and symptoms of MRSA depend on the area of the body is infected. Although many people carry MRSA bacteria in their mucosa (inside the nose), they may never display any symptoms of active infection.

Staph skin infections, including MRSA, generally start as swollen, painful red bumps that might resemble pimples or spider bites. The affected area might be:

Warm to the touch
Full of pus or other drainage
Accompanied by a fever

These can quickly turn into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical draining. Sometimes the bacteria remain confined to the skin. But they can also burrow deep into the body, causing potentially life threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs.

MRSA Diagnosing

MRSA can be diagnosed by culturing a sample of blood, urine, body fluid or a swab of a wound from a patient for signs of drug-resistant bacteria. If the test results are positive, additional tests can be completed to determine which antibiotic will kill the bacteria. MRSA strains are detected by analyzing which antibiotics are successful at eliminating the bacteria.

But because it takes about 48 hours for the bacteria to grow, newer tests that can detect staph DNA in a matter of hours are now becoming more widely available.


Treatment depends on Type of infection, Location of the infection, Severity of the symptoms and 
Antibiotics to which the specific strain of MRSA responds.

Both health care-associated and community-associated strains of MRSA still respond to certain antibiotics. 

In some cases, antibiotics may not be necessary. For example, doctors may drain a superficial abscess caused by MRSA rather than treat the infection with drugs.

  • Wash your hands.
  • Keep wounds covered. 
  • Keep personal items personal..
  • Shower immediately after athletic games or practices.

In the hospital, people who are infected or colonized with MRSA often are placed in contact precautions as a measure to prevent the spread of MRSA. Visitors and health care workers caring for people in isolation may be required to wear protective garments and must follow strict hand hygiene procedures. Contaminated surfaces and laundry items should be properly disinfected.

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