Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Abbreviation: MRSA.


    Community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA).

  • Hospital-acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA).

To understand MRSA it is helpful to learn about Staphylococcus aureus ("S. aureus"). Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to as "staph," are bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. About 25-30% of the U.S. population carries staph on their bodies and yet the bacteria do not always cause illness or infection.

MRSA is a kind of staph. It can be carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people, and may never cause an infection or make them sick. Patients most at risk for MRSA include immunosuppressed patients, burn patients, intubated patients, and those with central venous catheters, surgical wounds, or dermatitis. Others at risk include those with prosthetic devices, heart valves, and postoperative wound infections. Other risk factors include prolonged hospital stays, extended therapy with multiple or broadspectrum antibiotics, and close proximity to those colonized or infected with MRSA. Also at risk are patients with acute endocarditis, bacterium, cervicitis, meningitis, pericarditis, and pneumonia.

MRSA is usually spread by skin-to-skin contact between individuals. It can also be spread by sharing personal items and equipment or from contact with any other surfaces soiled with secretions or drainage from infected wounds. Cases of CA - MRSA (Community Associated - MRSA) can spread easily in close contact environments including households, child care centers, athletic facilities, military establishments, hostels, and camps. Factors that make it easier for MRSA to be spread referred to as “the 5C's.” They are as follows, crowding, frequent skin-to-skin contact, compromised skin (i.e., cuts or scrapes), contaminated items and surfaces, and lack of cleanliness.

MRSA bacteria can live on surfaces for days, weeks or months. Individuals who have draining infections are shedding more bacteria and are therefore more infectious than those who have the germs living harmlessly on their skin or in their noses.

Today up to 90% of Staphylococcus aureus isolates or strains arc penicillin-resistant, and about 27% of all S. aureus isolates are resistant to methicillin. MRSA has become prevalent with the overuse of antibiotics. Over the years, overuse has given once-susceptible bacteria the chance to develop defenses against antibiotics. This new capability allows resistant to flourish when antibiotics knock out their more sensitive cousins.


Symptoms of an MRSA infection vary depending on thepart of the body that is infected. Some common symptoms may include pimples, rashes, pus-filled boils, especially when warm, painful, red or swollen area.

Symptoms of a more serious staph infection may include:


  • Chills.

  • Fatigue.

  • Malaise.

  • Headache.

  • Chest pain.

  • Muscle aches.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Rash.


Your doctor will usually take a sample on a swab (like a Q-tip) from the infectedarea. The sample will be sent to a laboratory to see if the infection is caused bystaph. If the infection is caused by staph, a second test will be needed todetermine if the staph is MRSA.

Other tests may include:

    Blood culture.

  • Culture of the drainage (fluid) from the infection.

  • Skin culture from the infected site.

  • Sputum culture.

  • Urine culture.


MRSA is different from other staph because it cannot be treated with some antibiotics. When antibiotics are needed to treat a MRSA infection, the right antibiotic must be used. If the right antibiotic is not used, the treatment may not work. If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, it is very important to take all the medicine as ordered, even if the infection is getting better. If an ointment is prescribed, apply it to all skin lesions. Most MRSA infections are treated by good wound and skin care. Keeping the area clean and dry, washing your hands after caring for the area, carefully disposing of any bandages, and allowing your body to heal. If the infection has not improved within a few days after seeing your doctor, contact your doctor again.

Preventive Measures:

1. Regular handwashing is the best way to prevent getting and spreading staph, including MRSA.

2. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until they have healed.

3. Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages, unless it is very important.

4. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, washcloths, toothbrushes, and razors.

Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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