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Methicillin-Resistant Staph Infection

(MRSA; Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infection; Infection, Methicillin-Resistant; Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Community-Acquired MRSA; CA-MRSA; Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Nosocomial MRSA; Healthcare-Associated MRSA; HA-MRSA)
  • Definition

    Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a potentially serious infection that resists antibiotics. MRSA can affect the skin, blood, bones, or lungs. A person can either be infected or colonized with MRSA.
    There are 2 types of MRSA infections:
    • Community-acquired—getting the infection outside of a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or clinic
    • Nosocomial—getting the infection while inside a healthcare setting
    MRSA can spread several ways:
    • Contaminated surfaces
    • Person-to-person
    • From one area of the body to another
  • Causes

    MRSA is caused by specific bacteria that resist antibiotics. Over time, bacteria adapt to repeated exposure to antibiotics, building up a resistance to them.
  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of developing MRSA include:
    • Community-acquired:
      • Impaired immunity
      • Sharing crowded spaces such as dormitories or locker rooms
      • Using IV drugs
      • Having a serious illness
      • Age: child
      • Being an athlete, especially in sports using direct contact such as wrestling and football
      • Being a prisoner
      • Being a member of the military
      • Exposure to animals such as being a pet owner, veterinarian, or pig farmer
      • Using antibiotics
      • Having a chronic skin disorder
      • Having a wound
      • Being infected with MRSA in the past
    • Nosocomial:
      • Exposure to hospital or clinical settings
      • Living in a long-term care center
      • Impaired immunity
      • Advanced age
      • Gender: male
      • Using antibiotics
      • Having a wound
  • Symptoms

    MRSA may not cause any symptoms in people who are colonized, but not infected, with the bacteria. In those that have symptoms, MRSA may cause:
    • A rash that may have discharge
    • An area of the skin that is swollen and red
    • Blisters and boils on the skin
    Infected Hair Follicle—Folliculitis
    Inflammed hair follicle
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
    Antibiotics are given to kill the bacteria. Only a few antibiotics are available that can treat MRSA.
    Incision and Drainage of an Abscess
    Your doctor may open the abscess and allow the fluid to drain. Do not attempt to do this on your own.
    Cleansing of the Skin
    Do the following to treat the infection and to keep it from spreading:
    1. Wash your skin with an antibacterial cleanser.
    2. Cover your skin with a sterile dressing.
    Decolonization is a process to help rid your body of the bacteria so you do not reinfect yourself. This process may involve using nasal ointments, washing with special soap, and taking medications, including antibiotics. Decolonization is only recommended in certain cases.
  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of MRSA:
    • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.
    • Keep cuts and wounds clean and covered until healed.
    • Avoid contact with other people’s wounds and materials contaminated by wounds.
    • If you are hospitalized, visitors and healthcare workers may be required to wear special clothing and gloves. This will help prevent spreading the infection to others.
    • Clean surfaces to eliminate bacteria.
    • If advised by your doctor, use nasal ointments, wash with special soap, and take medications to prevent the bacteria from infecting you again.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


    Health Canada

    Public Health Agency of Canada


    Barton M, Hawkes M, Moore D, et al. Guidelines for the prevention and management of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: A perspective for Canadian health care practitioners. Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol. 2006;17(Suppl C):4C.

    Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated August 4, 2015. Accessed August 10, 2015.

    MRSA decolonization. Aurora BayCare Medical Center website. Available at: Accessed August 10, 2015.

    Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated August 4, 2015. Accessed August 10, 2015.

    MRSA. Nemours Foundation Kids Health website. Available at: Updated June 2014. Accessed August 10, 2015.

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