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Definition  

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a potentially serious infection that resists antibiotics. MRSA can affect the skin, blood, bones, or lungs. A person can either be infected or colonized with MRSA.

There are two types of MRSA infections:

  • Community-acquired—getting the infection outside of a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or clinic
  • Nosocomial—getting the infection while inside a healthcare setting

MRSA can spread several ways:

  • Contaminated surfaces
  • Person-to-person
  • From one area of the body to another
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Causes  

MRSA is caused by specific bacteria that resist antibiotics. Over time, bacteria adapt to repeated exposure to antibiotics, building up a resistance to them.

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Risk Factors  

Factors that may increase your chance of developing MRSA include:

  • Community-acquired:
    • Impaired immunity
    • Sharing crowded spaces such as dormitories or locker rooms
    • Using IV drugs
    • Having a serious illness
    • Age: Child
    • Being an athlete, especially in sports using direct contact such as wrestling and football
    • Being a prisoner
    • Being a member of the military
    • Exposure to animals such as being a pet owner, veterinarian, or pig farmer
    • Using antibiotics
    • Having a chronic skin disorder
    • Having a wound
    • Being infected with MRSA in the past
  • Nosocomial:
    • Exposure to hospital or clinical settings
    • Living in a long-term care center
    • Impaired immunity
    • Advanced age
    • Sex: male
    • Using antibiotics
    • Having a wound
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Infected Hair Follicle—Folliculitis  
Inflammed hair follicle

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Symptoms  

MRSA may not cause any symptoms in people who are colonized, but not infected, with the bacteria. In those that have symptoms, MRSA may cause:

  • A rash that may have discharge
  • An area of the skin that is swollen and red
  • Blisters on the skin
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Diagnosis  

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Skin biopsy
  • Wound cultures
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Treatment  

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Medications  

Antibiotics are given to kill the bacteria. Only a few antibiotics are available that can treat MRSA.

Incision and Drainage of an Abscess  

Your doctor may open the abscess and allow the fluid to drain. Do not attempt to do this on your own.

Cleansing of the Skin