MRSA

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA is a staph infection that is immune to many types of antibiotics. (Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)/Antibiotic Resistance) Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium that lives on our skin and, most of the time, causes no ill effects. Problems may arise, however, 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.

An unchecked infection may develop into sepsis. Sometimes incorrectly called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s life-threatening response to infection. Like strokes or heart attacks, sepsis is a medical emergency that requires rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Sepsis and septic shock can result from an infection anywhere in the body, such as pneumonia, influenza, or urinary tract infections. Worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis die. Many who do survive are left with life-changing effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue,  organ dysfunction (organs 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.

MRSA infection spread

Most often, MRSA infection spreads 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 MRSA, it could enter your body through the break in the skin.

Healthcare-acquired infections are spread by the people inside a healthcare facility. They may touch a patient who has MRSA and then transmit the bacteria to another patient. Patients may also contract MRSA in a facility if they touch contaminated objects, such as a bedside table or bed rails.

 Symptoms

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 this type infection, however people with weakened immune systems or chronic illnesses do have a higher risk. MRSA also spreads easily within healthcare settings.

Treatment

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

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

 Prevention

Not all infections can be prevented, but the chances of spreading infections 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.

You can also help protect yourself by eating a healthy diet. Malnutrition, not consuming enough nutrients for your needs, can lower your body’s ability to fight infection.

If you suspect sepsis, call 9-1-1 or go to a hospital and tell your medical professional, “I AM CONCERNED ABOUT SEPSIS.” 

The information here is also available as a Sepsis Information Guide, which is a downloadable format for easier printing.

Would you like to share your story about sepsis or read about others who have had sepsis? Please visit Faces of Sepsis, where you will find hundreds of stories from survivors and tributes to those who died from sepsis.

Suggested Citation: Sepsis Alliance. Sepsis and MRSA. 2022. https://www.sepsis.org/sepsisand/mrsa/

Updated May 3, 2022.

Read Personal Stories of Sepsis and MRSA

Kayla Ferrer

Survivor

Kayla was admitted for hip pain then became septic due to osteomyelitis of the hip, which was also MRSA. Due to her asthma she got pneumonia. (Sepsis and MRSA, Sepsis and Pneumonia) Kayla was intubated two days after being admitted. Went into surgery to remove the infection but unfortunately her heart was failing she received two rounds of chest compressions and was placed on ECMO. Kayla was not getting any better her left lung was completely collapsed after a bronchoscopy that an RT recommended. From one day to another she showed so much improvement. After 7 days on ECMO she ... Read Full Story

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Burton Davis

Survivor, Survivor

This past December 23rd I went to hospital for a routine spine surgery. Everything went well. About 10 days later I felt flu like. Body aches, low fever, malaise. (Sepsis and Surgery) I went back for a follow up visit and the doctor said I might have the flu. On our way home the phone rang and it was our doctors office. They said my blood tests did show a MRSA infection and I was to return immediately to the hospital emergency room. (Sepsis and MRSA) Only approximately 2 weeks after my surgery, I was already septic. My SED rate ... Read Full Story

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Kimberly Brown

Survivor, Survivor, Survivor

My story started in 2017, I was recently married in Punta Cana and just returned from our first family vacation in Florida. Upon returning, I woke up with a swollen lip that I thought was a sun blister that I had picked at the night before. I went to the ER and was sent home with Bactrim and Keflex being treated for a skin infection. I had broke out with a sulphur rash on my 8th day of treatment and was advised to discontinue the meds. At this time the infection had appeared to have healed on the outside but ... Read Full Story

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Sarah C.

Survivor, Survivor, Survivor, Survivor

I don’t get sick often. I never have. But when I do its usually something serious!! One day I wasn’t feeling well and I had a fever with no cough or sore throat and I didn’t understand what was wrong. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that what would happen next would ever happen to me. 3 days later I wake up and my hip was hurting a little and I was limping. And by the end of the day I couldn’t even wipe my own butt. I couldn’t walk, I could hardly move. All I ... Read Full Story

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Cynthia Ellis

Survivor, Survivor, Survivor, Survivor, Survivor

I am 48 years old. I am in excellent shape. I walk 4 miles every day, I’m not overweight. I don’t smoke or drink. This is my story of survival. I had just been released from hospital after a simple (total/both breast removal) mastectomy; as I was suddenly diagnosed with high grade spindle cell sarcoma (a rare cancer, which I can get self contained tumors within soft tissues of my body at any time). (Sepsis and Cancer) All was well for the first 2 days when I suddenly just didn’t feel very well. I felt flushed and exhausted but checked ... Read Full Story

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MRSA

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA is a staph infection that is immune to many types of antibiotics. (Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)/Antibiotic Resistance) Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacteria that lives on our skin and, most of the time, causes no ill effects. Problems may arise, however, 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.