What is MRSA?
MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is a specific type of Staphylococcus bacteria that is difficult to treat with antibiotics, therefore it is called resistant. Staphylococcus is one kind of bacteria that live on our skin and can also be found in our noses without causing an infection. It becomes a problem when it is the source of an infection. These bacteria can be spread from one person to another through casual contact or through contaminated objects. This type of infection can occur anywhere that the skin has been broken such as wounds, burns, or where a catheter has been inserted into the body.
In 2005, there were an estimated 94,360 cases of MRSA infections reported in the United States. When a MRSA infection occurs 48 hours after being in a hospital, it is called hospital-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (HA-MRSA).
MRSA infections are not just limited to the hospital environment but are also seen in young healthy individuals who have cuts, wounds, or come in close contact with one another, i.e., members of sports teams. Many times these skin infections may look like pimples or boils and can be swollen, painful and drain pus. This type of infection is called community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA).
How can I help reduce my risk of acquiring MRSA?
- Keep yourself healthy; a weakened immune system puts you more at risk.
- Wash your hands frequently; proper hand washing may be the single most important action needed to prevent the spread of MRSA.
- Keep your environment clean and sanitary.
- Don’t share towels and toiletry articles eg. razors.
- Keep a draining sore covered.
- Help prevent antibiotic resistant bacteria from forming by only using antibiotics when medically necessary, and by completing your whole course of treatment.
- See your healthcare provider with any wound or boil that doesn’t heal or has drainage.
For more indepth information on MRSA and how to prevent it, review the following websites:
The skin is the source website is dedicated to reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) by educating patients that skin is often the source of HAIs.
- National Patient Safety Foundation
- Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) website