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MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) is a type ofstaphylococcus bacteria (staph) that is resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics. MRSA is contagious and can cause life-threatening infection.
MRSA isn’t found in the natural environment (soil or water). It lives in the nose and on the skin of humans. MRSA is spread by coming in contact with an infected person or by exposure to a MRSA-contaminated object or surface that an infected person touches.

Risk Factors for Developing a MRSA Infection

Risks for HA-MRSA

Risks for HA-MRSA include:
  • hospitalization (current or within the past year)
  • dialysis
  • weakened immune system
  • nursing home residence

Risks for CA-MRSA

Risks for CA-MRSA include:
  • prison residence
  • homosexual sex (homosexuals have a higher incidence of MRSA)
  • athletes who share equipment, towels, or razors
  • participation in contact sports
  • residence in military training camps
  • attendance at day care facilities
  • touching surfaces contaminated with MRSA

Symptoms and Signs of a MRSA Infection

The majority of MRSA infections remain restricted to the skin. HA-MRSA can cause severe illness, where the bacteria can spread to the blood, bones, and other tissue.

Symptoms of CA-MRSA

CA-MRSA usually causes skin infections. Areas that have been cut, scratched, or rubbed are vulnerable to infection. Areas of increased body hair—such as the buttocks, armpits, back of the neck, and beard—are more likely to be infected. Infected areas are red, swollen (fluid-filled) and painful to touch. The lesion may resemble an infected spider bite. Typically, there is yellow or white center and a central head. Pus and other fluids may drain from these lesions.
The spectrum of MRSA skin infections includes infection or abscess of hair follicles (furuncles), abscesses, and carbuncles (a mass of infected furuncles).

Symptoms of HA-MRSA

HA-MRSA can cause severe problems, such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, sepsis, and bone infections. The symptoms of HA-MRSA include:
  • generalized feeling of ill health (malaise)
  • rash
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • chills
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pains

Treating MRSA Infections

MRSA can be sensitive to other antibiotics. Intravenous antibiotics are used to treat severe infections. Not all CA-MRSA infections are treated with antibiotics. The doctor may choose to drain an abscess, rather than treat with antibiotics.

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