MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is an infection caused by a particular strain of Staphylococcus bacteria that is resistant to commonly used antibiotics. Staphylococcus is a group of bacteria that can cause a range of diseases. Staphylococcus (often called staph, pronounced “staff”) is normally found in the nose and on the skin of 25-30% of the healthy population and generally causes no problems. Most staph infections, including MRSA start as small red bumps on the skin that resemble a pimple, boil or spider bite. Sometimes MRSA remains on the skin and causes painful sores requiring surgical drainage. Other times MRSA bacteria can burrow much deeper causing life-threatening infections of the bones, joints, bloodstream, lungs, or heart. At-risk people include those in medical facilities, especially those having surgeries, artificial joints, catheters or other invasive procedures where there may be openings or wounds in the body for the MRSA to enter. These cases are called health care -associated MRSA (HA-MRSA). In addition, MRSA can be spread in the community (community-associated MRSA or CA-MRSA) by skin-to-skin contact. At-risk individuals may include wrestlers who have close skin-to-skin contact, childcare workers or those living in crowded conditions. Homosexual men also have a higher risk for MRSA.
MRSA is diagnosed by taking a tissue sample of the affected area or nasal secretion samples to detect the presence of the MRSA bacteria. Because MRSA is resistant to many of the commonly used antibiotics, it is more difficult to treat. However, both HA-MRSA and CA-MRSA, still respond to certain antibiotics. Alternative treatment may include surgical drainage of the area of concern on the skin. If you think you may have MRSA or been exposed to it, please see a specialist to determine your risk. If you have MRSA, you may find it helpful to reach out to a support group in addition to talking with your doctor and specialists