Common Questions and Answers about MRSA
What is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)?
Some staph bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. MRSA is a type of staph that is resistant to antibiotics called beta-lactams. Beta-lactam antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin.
Who gets staph or MRSA infections?
Staph infections, including MRSA, occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities who have weakened immune systems.
What is community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA)?
MRSA infections that are acquired by persons who have not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized or had a medical procedure are known as CA-MRSA infections. Staph or MRSA infections in the community are usually manifested as skin infections, such as pimples and boils, and occur in otherwise healthy people.
How common are staph and MRSA infections?
Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infection in the United States and are a common cause of pneumonia, surgical wound infections, and bloodstream infections.
What does a staph or MRSA infection look like?
Symptoms of MRSA include, among others, redness (with or without pus or other drainage), swelling, increased pain, and fever.
Are certain people at increased risk for community-associated staph or MRSA infections?
The CDC has investigated clusters of CA-MRSA skin infections among athletes, military recruits, children, men who have sex with men, and prisoners, among others. Factors that have been associated with the spread of MRSA skin infections include: close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions, and poor hygiene.
How can I prevent staph or MRSA skin infections?
Practice good hygiene:
• Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
• Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
Can I get a staph or MRSA infection at my health club?
The environment has not played a significant role in the spread of MRSA. MRSA is transmitted most frequently by direct skin-to-skin contact. You can protect yourself from infections by practicing good hygiene (see above); using a barrier (e.g., clothing or a towel) between your skin and shared equipment; and wiping surfaces of equipment before and after use.
What should I do if I think I have a staph or MRSA infection?
See your healthcare provider.
Are staph and MRSA infections treatable?
Yes. Most staph and MRSA infections are treatable with antibiotics. If you are given an antibiotic, take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless your doctor tells you to stop taking it. Do not share antibiotics with other people or save unfinished antibiotics to use at another time.
If after visiting your healthcare provider the infection is not getting better after a few days, contact them again.
If other people you know or live with get the same infection tell them to go to their healthcare provider.
Is it possible that my staph or MRSA skin infection will come back after it is cured?
Yes. It is possible to have a staph or MRSA skin infection come back (recur) after it is cured. To prevent this from happening, follow your healthcare provider’s directions while you have the infection, and follow the prevention steps after the infection is gone.
Factors that could increase the risk of MRSA:
• History of MRSA infection
• History in the past year of:
o Admission to a long term care facility (nursing home, skilled nursing, or hospice)
o Dialysis and end-stage renal disease
o Diabetes mellitus
o Permanent indwelling catheters or medical devices that pass through the skin into the body
o Injection drug use
• High prevalence of MRSA in the local community
• Recent and/or frequent antibiotic use
• Close contact with someone known to be infected with MRSA
• Recurrent skin disease
• Crowded living conditions (e.g., homeless shelters)
• Infection among sports participants who have:
o Skin-to-skin contact
o Pre-existing skin damage
o Shared clothing and/or equipment