What is MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus)?

What is MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus)?
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium disease that causes infections in different parts of the body. It's harder to treat than most strains and diseases of staphylococcus aureus -- or staph -- because it's resistant to many commonly used antibiotics. The symptoms of MRSA depend on location of the infection. Most often, MRSA causes mild infections on the skin, causing pimples or boils. But it can also cause more serious skin infections or infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs, or ever in the urinary tract.

What causes MRSA? Garden-variety staph are common bacteria that are able to live on our bodies. Plenty of healthy people carry staph without being infected by it and knowing it. In fact, 25-30% of us have staph bacteria in our noses. But staph can be a problem if it manages to get into the body, often through a cut. Once there, it can cause an infection. Staph is one of the most common causes of skin infections in the U.S. Usually, these are minor and don't need special treatment. Less often, staph can cause serious problems like infected wounds or pneumonia. Staph can usually be treated with antibiotics. But over the decades, some strains of staph -- like MRSA -- have become resistant to antibiotics that once destroyed it. MRSA was first discovered in 1961. It's now immune to methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and many other antibiotics that are avaible out there in the health facilities. While some antibiotics still work, MRSA is constantly changing and adapting to new antibiotics being developed. Researchers developing new antibiotics are having a tough time keeping up with the resistancy.

Who gets MRSA? MRSA is spread by contact. So you could get MRSA by touching another person who has it on the skin. Or you could get it by touching objects that have the bacteria on them. MRSA is carried, or "colonized," by about 1% of the population, although most of them aren't infected. MRSA Infections are most common among people who have weak immune systems and are living in hospitals, nursing homes, and other heath care centers. Infections can appear around surgical wounds or invasive devices, like catheters or implanted feeding tubes. Rates of infection in hospitals, especially intensive care units, are rising throughout the world. In U.S. hospitals, MRSA causes up to 40%-50% of staph infections.

Who is at risk for community-associated MRSA? Outbreaks have been reported among athletes, prisoners, and military recruits; risk factors include sharing close quarters and personal hygiene products like razors or towels. Infections are increasingly being seen in the general community and have been reported in schools, gyms, and even day care centers. While health-care-associated MRSA infections more typically occur among the elderly, the average age of a person with a community-associated infection is 23, according to one study.

Does having HIV infection affect MRSA risk? According to the CDC, people with weakened immune systems, including HIV infection, may have more severe illness if they become infected with MRSA. People with a weakened immune system should follow the same preventive measures to prevent being infected, including washing their hands frequently, covering wounds with bandages, and refraining from sharing personal hygiene items.