What you should
Resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
MRSA is a bacterial
infection caused by the organism, Staphylococcus aureus (commonly called
ďstaphĒ), that is resistant to a group of antibiotics including penicillin,
methicillin, oxacillin, and amoxicillin. Most cases of MRSA appear as skin
infections such as pimples, boils, or lesions. They may be red, swollen,
painful, and/or filled with pus or fluid.
staph infections look like?
Staph skin infections can
have a variety of presentations from small pimples to large lesions. Many
times, staph infections are misdiagnosed as spider bites. You cannot tell the
difference between MRSA and other staph infections just by looking at it.
Special lab tests must be ordered to tell if bacteria are resistant to
Staph bacteria are very
common. About 25-30% of healthy people have staph naturally on their skin or in
their noses. About 1% of the population carries MRSA naturally on their
bodies. Most of the time, staph does not cause infection or illness. However,
if there are breaks in the skin from cuts and scrapes, a staph infection can
Although MRSA infections
are becoming more common in the community, most MRSA infections occur among
those in hospitals or other healthcare settings.
serious is staph and MRSA infections?
Most staph infections are
minor skin infections that can be treated with antibiotics. Some common
diagnoses associated with staph infections include boils, impetigo, carbuncles,
cellulitis, or abscesses. Sometimes, staph infections can be more serious
leading to bacteremia, pneumonia, or even death. But these complications are
usually associated with other risk factors such as recent hospitalization,
surgery, or underlying medical conditions. Invasive disease is not common in
otherwise healthy people.
be transmitted to others?
The most common way staph
infections are transmitted to others is through direct skin-to-skin contact.
Activities where there is frequent contact with others (such as playing football
or living in crowded conditions) may increase the chances of acquiring a staph
surfaces such as athletic equipment or tabletops may play a minor role in
transmission, but is not a significant factor. Routine cleaning and sanitation
of shared surfaces should be a regular practice to reduce infection and illness.
can I prevent MRSA and other staph infections?
The best way to prevent
staph infections is to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly and
frequently with soap and water. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels and
razors with other people. Avoid contact with wounds and bandages of others. If
you have cuts and scrapes on your skin, keep them clean and covered to prevent
Who is at
risk for getting MRSA infections?
MRSA is most common when
Crowded conditions (such as in prisons, or homeless shelters)
Contact with others (direct skin-to-skin contact)
Compromised skin (having cuts in skin)
Other risk factors include
recent history of hospitalization or surgery, residence at a long-term care
facility, use of invasive medical devices (such as catheters), high-contact
sports, injection drug use, and underlying health conditions.
Yes. Even though MRSA is
resistant to some antibiotics, it can be treated with others. It is important
for medical providers to do appropriate testing to determine which antibiotics
will be effective. A culture of the wound or abscess will determine if the
infection is indeed caused by staph. A drug sensitivity test will determine
which antibiotics the staph can be treated with.
been hearing a lot about MRSA lately. Is MRSA a new disease?
No, MRSA is not a new
disease. MRSA has been around for decades. It used to be found primarily in
hospital settings, but is now becoming more common in the general community.
Much of the recent attention has been due to the media coverage, and is
NOT the result of a new epidemic.
should I do if I have a staph infection?
If you think you have a
staph skin infection, keep the area clean, dry, and covered with a bandage. See
a physician to determine if the infection is caused by staph, MRSA, or some
other organism. If antibiotic treatment is prescribed, make sure to take the
entire course of medication. Donít save antibiotics for later use because this
can lead to increased antibiotic resistance. Take responsibility to prevent
passing the infection to others. Practice good hygiene and encourage those
around you to do the same. Donít share your personal items..
know has a staph infection. What should I do?
Donít be alarmed. Remember
that staph is a common type of bacteria and most staph infections are minor.
Also, the staph infection may not be MRSA and can be easily treated with
antibiotics. Protect yourself by practicing good hygiene and washing your hands
frequently. Avoid contact with the lesions of others. Encourage those with
infections to also take steps to prevent transmission such as covering the
November 8, 2007