MRSA – Methycillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus, (staph), are bacteria commonly found on the skin or in the nose of healthy people.

Approximately 25 – 30% of the population are colonized with staph bacteria, i.e., they carry the bacteria without becoming ill. Staph causes minor skin infections, such as, boils and pimples, that can be treated conservatively without antibiotics. However, staph bacteria can also cause much more serious skin infections, as well as bloodstream infections and pneumonia.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to various antibiotics, including the antibiotic methicillin. Historically, infections caused by MRSA have been associated with ill persons in health-care institutions. However, MRSA has now emerged as a common cause of skin and soft tissue infection that may occur in previously healthy people who have not had prior contact with the health-care setting. This type of MRSA infection is known as community-associated, therefore, it is called CA-MRSA. It is estimated that approximately 1% of the population is colonized with MRSA.

The skin is the largest body organ system and is the body’s first line of defense against invading bacteria. Bacteria can enter, and infection ensue, whenever the skin is traumatized, thus opening the body to the environment. Whenever injury to the skin occurs, it is important to observe for redness, pain, swelling, and drainage. These symptoms should be evaluated by a medical provider.

Practicing good hygiene is one of the most important things that can be done to control the spread of staph infection.

  • Keep hands clean by frequently washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • When infection occurs, handwashing with soap and water, rather than using alcohol-based rubs for hand hygiene, is the best practice.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes covered with a clean bandage until healed.
  • Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
  • Avoid sharing personal items that directly touch the body, such as towels, razors, and water bottles.
  • Keep fingernails clean and clipped short.
  • See your medical provider if you have a skin infection that is not getting better.