Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

What is MRSA?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) refers to types of bacteria that are resistant to methicillin, an antibiotic. Staph and MRSA, formerly occurring only in hospital settings, now can cause illness in persons outside of hospitals or healthcare facilities (community-associated MRSA infections). They usually appear as skin infections, such as pimples or boils ("spider bite" appearance ) and can occur in otherwise healthy individuals. Some MRSA infections can be treated without antibiotics, but sometimes very serious infections occur when the infection enters the bloodstream or causes pneumonia and death can result.

Can I get MRSA from someone at work or school?

MRSA is transmitted most frequently by direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with shared items or surfaces that have come into contact with someone with MRSA. MRSA skin infections can occur anywhere, but some settings have characteristics that make it easier to transmit the infection:

  1. Crowded conditions, e.g., residence halls, classrooms, military barracks, correctional facilities, daycare centers, households
  2. Frequent skin-to-skin contact
  3. Compromised skin (cuts/scrapes) that provides a portal of entry for the bacteria into the body
  4. Contaminated items that have come into contact with MRSA bacteria, and
  5. Lack of cleanliness or good personal hygiene

Who gets Staph or MRSA infections?

In the United States, 25 to 30% of the population is colonized with Staph bacteria in the nose. Colonization means that the bacteria are present, but not causing an infection. Staph infections used to occur primarily in hospitals and other healthcare settings, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers in patients with weakened immune systems. They included surgical wound infections, urinary tract infections, blood stream infections, and pneumonia. Now as a result of 50-years of prescribing penicillin-related antibiotics for infections, the Staph bacteria have mutated and become resistant to common antibiotics, resulting in a new "super bug" that has moved quickly out into the community in recent years as the community-associated methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infections (MRSA) that now occur in otherwise healthy individuals. Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infections in the United States, as well as of pneumonia, wound infections, and bloodstream infections.

What are the signs and symptoms of a Staph or MRSA infection?

Staph infections, including MRSA, may look like a pimple or a boil and can be red, swollen, warm to the touch, painful, and may have "pus" or other drainage. The infections are sometimes described as looking like a spider bite. They become more serious if they spread into the bloodstream, cause pneumonia, or infect a surgical wound.

If you or a friend or roommate has a wound that may be infected, contact your health care provider or Birkam Health Center for more information.

For more information about MRSA, check out the following links:,4612,7-132-2945_5104_55205-268147--,00.html

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to replace professional care. Please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.