Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a bacteria that causes infections such as skin infection, pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and more. Unlike most strains of Staphylococcus aureus – which are common bacteria than can live in our bodies without infecting it – MRSA is resistant to many antibiotics.
MRSA typically occurs when there’s a cut or break in your skin. It is highly contagious and common in places where there is greater risk of infection from open wounds, invasive devices, and weakened immune systems, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons. In fact, MRSA originated as a hospital-acquired infection and has since become community-acquired.
Within 48-72 hours, MRSA can infect human tissue and eventually become resistant to antibiotic treatment. Initially, MRSA manifests itself as small red bumps that resemble pimples, boils, or insect bites. It may be accompanied by fever and rashes. Within days, the bumps become larger and more painful, eventually opening into deep, pus-filled boils.
You may be at risk for MRSA if you:
- Have a weak immune system
- Have diabetes
- Have an indwelling implant, prosthesis, drain, or catheter
- Undergo dialysis on a regular basis
- Are elderly
- Live or work in a nursing home or hospital setting
- Participate in contact sports
- Have been incarcerated
MRSA is a potentially life-threatening infection, so treatment is urgent. Effective antibiotics can be administered intravenously, orally, or a combination of both depending on the specific circumstances and the patient’s characteristics.