Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA is staph infection that has become immune to many types of antibiotics. Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacteria that lives on our skin and, most of the time, causes no ill effects. The problems begin to happen if there is a break in the skin – through a cut, a puncture, or some other opening – that allows the staph to enter into the body.

Unchecked MRSA may develop into sepsis. Sometimes called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection or injury. Sepsis kills and disables millions and requires early suspicion and rapid treatment for survival.

Worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis die (What is the prognosis (outcome) with sepsis?). Many who do survive are left with organ dysfunction (don’t work properly) and/or amputations.

There are two types of MRSA infections: community acquired (CA) and hospital acquired (HA). The most common type is HA-MRSA, but CA-MRSA is becoming more common.

How Is MRSA Infection Spread?

Most often, MRSA is spread by skin-to-skin contact or through contact with items contaminated by the bacteria. For example, if you skin your knee on a surface that has the MRSA bacteria, it could enter your body.

Healthcare-acquired infections are spread by the people who are inside the healthcare facility, who may touch a patient who has MRSA and then transmit it to another patient.

What are the symptoms for MRSA Infections?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MRSA infections usually appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that might be:

  • Red
  • Swollen
  • Painful
  • Warm to the touch
  • Full of pus or other drainage
  • Accompanied by a fever

Who Is at Risk for MRSA Infection?

Anyone can develop an MRSA infection, however people with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses do have a higher risk. MRSA is also spread easily within healthcare settings.

Can MRSA Infection Be Treated?

Although MRSA bacteria is resistant to methicillin, a type of antibiotic, it can often be treated with another type of antibiotic.

For MRSA treatment to be effective, the infection needs to be caught and treated as early as possible.

Can MRSA Infection Be Prevented?

Not all infections can be prevented, but the chances of spreading infections, including MRSA, can be greatly reduced by following these tips:

  • Wash your hands often, particularly if you are in a healthcare facility.
  • Keep wounds clean and covered.
  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as razors.