mrsa Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) is a type of staphylococcus or "staph" bacterium that is resistant to many antibiotics. Staph bacteria, like other kinds of bacteria, normally live on your skin and in your nose, usually without causing problems. But if these bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, they can cause serious infections, especially in people who are ill or weak. MRSAis different from other types of staph because it cannot be treated with certain antibiotics such as methicillin.

  MRSA infections are more difficult to treat than ordinary staph infections. This is because the strains of staph known as MRSA do not respond well to many common antibiotics used to kill bacteria. When methicillin and other antibiotics do not kill the bacteria causing an infection, it becomes harder to get rid of the infection.

  MRSA bacteria are more likely to develop when antibiotics are used too often or are not used correctly. Given enough time, bacteria can change so that these antibiotics no longer work well.

    mrsa-spreadd MRSA, like all staph bacteria, can be spread from one person to another through casual contact or through contaminated objects. It is commonly spread from the hands of someone who has MRSA. This could be anyone in a health care setting or in the community. MRSA is usually not spread through the air like the common cold or flu virus, unless a person has MRSA pneumonia and is coughing.

  MRSA that is acquired in a hospital or health care setting is called healthcare-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (HA-MRSA). In most cases, a person who is already sick or who has a weakened immune system becomes infected with HA-MRSA. These infections can occur in wounds or skin, burns, and IV or other sites where tubes enter the body, as well as in the eyes, bones, heart, or blood.

  In the past, MRSA infected people who had chronic illnesses. But now MRSA has become more common in healthy people. These infections can occur among people who have scratches, cuts, or wounds and who have close contact with one another, such as members of sports teams. This type of MRSA is called community-associated methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA).

    mrsa-symptoms Symptoms of a MRSA infection depend on where the infection is. If MRSA is causing an infection in a wound, that area of your skin may be red or tender. If you have pneumonia, you may develop a cough.

  Community-associated MRSA commonly causes skin infections, such asboilsabscesses, or cellulitis. Often, people think they have been bitten by a spider or insect. Because MRSA infections can become serious in a short amount of time, it is important to see your doctor right away if you notice a boil or other skin problem.

  prevent-mrsa As more antibiotic-resistant bacteria develop, hospitals are taking extra care to practice infection control, which includes frequent hand-washing and isolation of patients who are infected with MRSA.

  You can also take steps to protect yourself from MRSA.
  • Practice good hygiene.
    • Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently and thoroughly with soap and clean, running water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Hand-washing is the best way to avoid spreading germs.
    • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage, and avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
    • Do not share personal items such as towels or razors.
  • Be smart about using antibiotics. Know that antibiotics can help treat bacterial infections but they cannot cure viral infections. Always ask your doctor if antibiotics are the best treatment. And avoid pressuring your doctor into prescribing antibiotics when they won't help you get better.
  • Always take all your antibiotic medicine as prescribed by your doctor. Using only part of the medicine may cause antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop.
  • Do not save any antibiotics, and do not use antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else.
  • If you are in the hospital, remind doctors and nurses to wash their hands before they touch you.


  By -  Healthwise Staff Primary Medical Reviewer - E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer -Theresa O'Young, PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy Current as of - March 10, 2013