Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, also known as MRSA, is a strain of staph bacteria that is resistant to the beta-lactam antibiotics used to treat staph infections. The beta-lactam antibiotics include the following:

  • Methicillin
  • Penicillin
  • Amoxicillin
  • Oxacillin

While MRSA predominately targets people in healthcare-related facilities, it does affect healthy people in the community, by contact with an infected person's skin, contaminated surfaces or sharing personal items, such as towels or razors.

Causes of MRSA

The MRSA bacteria is a common strain of staph that resides on the skin or nasal secretions of about a third of the general population.

In a healthcare setting, the bacteria may be introduced to the body through any of the following, resulting in an infection:

  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Surgical wound site
  • Catheter
  • Breathing tube
  • Dialysis tubing

In a community-based setting, MRSA may be introduced by some of the following:

  • Daycare facility
  • Crowded living conditions
  • Athletic facilities
  • Military barracks

Symptoms of MRSA

The earliest symptom of MRSA may include the following:

  • Small red bumps on the skin
  • Swelling in the area of the wound
  • Warmth to the skin in the area of the wound
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Draining pustules or boils
  • Spider bite

Diagnosis of MRSA

To diagnose MRSA several tests are performed that culture the drainage from the infection site. They usually include:

  • Culture of tissue samples
  • Culture of nasal secretions
  • Sputum culture
  • Blood culture
  • Urine Culture

Treatment of MRSA

Treatment for MRSA varies depending on the severity of the infection. Some cases of MRSA may be treated with:

  • Medication
  • Surgical drainage of any abscesses on the skin
  • Decolonization regimen

A personalized treatment plan will be developed based on each patient's individual condition.

Prevention of MRSA

The steps to prevent MRSA from occurring are based on the practice of good hygiene. They include the following:

  • Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand cleaner
  • Cleaning cuts and scrapes thoroughly
  • Keeping cuts and scrapes bandaged until healed
  • Avoid sharing personal items that may have had contact with an infected wound or bandage
  • Keep surfaces clean
  • Communicate with health care providers about previous infections

Additional Resources

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