Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is one of the prevalent contributors to hospital-acquired infections and can have a detrimental impact on patient health. MRSA infections, and the complications that can present because of an MRSA infection, are associated with long hospital stays before the infection and its resulting complications effectively treated. This is due to the resistance that the bacteria have developed against many antibiotics used to treat staph infections.
The different types of MRSA infections can be broken down into two categories: Hospital Associated Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (HA-MRSA) and Community Associated Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) infections and are distinguished by their source of origin .
What is MRSA?
MRSA is a kind of staph bacteria that is resistant to methicillin. Because of its resistance to this antibiotic as well as other antibiotics, it was given the name Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Staph is commonly found on the skin in areas such as the nose, armpits, and groin. While the bacteria are present on skin, it is relatively harmless. It is when the bacteria enters the body that complications arise. The most common way that a staph bacterium enters the body is through a cut or a break in the skin. Other standard methods of MRSA entering the body are by using contaminated items like towels or razors.
How are these Bacteria Spread?
MRSA infections can be classified into hospital-associated (HA-MRSA) and community-associated (CA-MRSA) varieties, each of which features its own clinical characteristics, molecular biology, and treatment approach. Antibiotic susceptibility also varies between the two types of MRSA .
MRSA is primarily spread through direct skin contact, but it can also be transmitted in other situations. For instance, people involved in team activities where they have prolonged physical contact with each other, such as wrestling, football, or basketball are particularly vulnerable to MRSA transmission.
MRSA can be spread through contact with open sores, scrapes, scratches, and even healthy skin interacting with another person’s healthy skin if they are a carrier. MRSA can also reside in the nasal cavities and mucous of an individual without causing any symptoms – however, it may still transmit to a new host and develop into an active infection.
MRSA can also be passed through contact with objects that have been contaminated. If an individual who is infected touches an object, it can carry the bacteria until the next person makes contact, thus increasing the risk of further transmission.
Overview of Symptoms
Staph skin infections, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), typically present themselves as tender, inflamed red lesions that are reminiscent of acne or spider bites .
The Afflicted Region May Be:
- Full of Drainage or Puss
- Painful or warm to touch
- Very Red or Inflamed
Other Symptoms that may Present are:
- Low Blood Pressure
- Shortness of Breath
- Aches & Pains
Red bumps can sometimes worsen and develop into abscesses, which require medical attention. Unfortunately, the bacteria may also spread to other parts of the body, leading to serious health risks such as joint infections, bone infections, heart valve damage, and bloodstream infection; which is one of the reasons it is so incredibly important to seek out medical attention if you suspect you have an MRSA infection.
How can I prevent an MRSA Infection?
It is vital to prevent MRSA infections by taking good care of your skin, practicing proper hygiene, and avoiding sharing personal items like towels, razors, and bed sheets. If a person has a wound, they should keep it covered, protect it from dirt and bacteria, and clean the area daily with soap and water.
Properly washing and drying clothing and equipment that may have come in contact with MRSA is important. Most importantly, it is essential to wash your hands regularly with soap and water to avoid spreading bacteria and viruses around.
Who is at Risk for MRSA Infection?
Anyone can get MRSA, and it can infect anyone at any age. The risk factors associated with MRSA infection are as follows: being hospitalized for an increased amount of time, intensive care treatment in a hospital, invasive procedures, living in a community, or frequenting a place with a high occurrence of CA-MRSA .
Another factor associated with an increased risk of MRSA infection is being 65 years of age or older, because advanced age puts a person at higher risk of being hospitalized for any length of time which increases the chances they will come in contact with HA-MRSA. HA-MRSA is usually more commonly associated with serious health complications such as blood infections, UTIs and pneumonia . Additionally, those who have a weakened immune system are more susceptible to contracting an MRSA infection no matter if it is CA-MRSA or HA-MRSA.
How is MRSA infection diagnosed?
A culture of blood, sputum, wound, or other site will be tested and if S. aureus is isolated, it will be tested against antibiotics to see if it is Methicillin-resistant and to determine the proper treatment.
It is crucial to seek treatment if you think you have an MRSA infection. MRSA infections can be serious or even fatal if left untreated. Patients may carry MRSA innocuously on the skin or in the nostrils, yet this opportunistic microbe can quickly turn dangerous if it enters a living host’s bloodstream. Failure to diagnose and treat promptly can result in septic shock and even toxic shock syndrome. That is why it is essential to seek treatment from a professional as soon as you suspect you have come in contact with MRSA.
- Siddiqui, Abdul H, and Janak Koirala. Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus – NCBI Bookshelf. 18 July 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482221/.
- MRSA infection. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mrsa/symptoms-causes/syc-20375336. Published November 8, 2022. Accessed December 2022.
- “Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) .” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 June 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/community/index.html.
- Lights V. MRSA (staph) infection: Pictures, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mrsa#symptoms. Published March 8, 2019. Accessed December 2022.