What Does MRSA Stand For?
MRSA stands for:
Methicillin (a penicillin related antibiotic)
Resistant (the bacteria is not affected by the antibiotic)
Staphylococcus Aureus (the bacteria that causes the infection)
It is pronounced either by saying all four letters, or calling it mer-sa.
What is MRSA?
MRSA is a type of microorganism that can lead to different kinds of infections; most commonly, skin infections.
Even though staph bacteria has been around forever, MRSA is relatively new. It was first identified back in 1961, only about two years after methicillin – an antibiotic – was first used to treat it.
It is believed that the bacteria became resistant to methicillin because of the evolution of one of its genes. It is thought that this gene has continued to evolve, so that some strains of MRSA are also resistant to other antibiotics such as amoxicillin, oxacillin, and penicillin. Other forms of the bacteria, such as HA-MRSA are also frequently resistant to erythromycin, tetracycline, and clindamycin.
As a result, it is sometimes labeled a “superbug” because it has developed a resistance to several types of antibiotics.
What are Signs & Symptoms of a MRSA Infection?
MRSA infections aren’t uncommon and they can produce a number of different kinds of symptoms. Because there are so many types of infection with MRSA bacteria, you may experience one or several MRSA symptoms. They may include any of the following:
- Abscesses – which are pus collections either under or within the skin.
- Boils – which are infected hair follicles that fill with pus.
- Carbuncles – which are similar to abscesses, but that are larger, typically opening up on the skin in several places.
- Cellulitis – which is a type of infection to either the fat and tissues underneath the skin, or the skin itself, which will typically start as small red bumps.
- Impetigo – which is a blister filled with pus on the skin.
- Rash – which occurs as has red or reddish-colored patches on the skin.
- Sty – which is an infection of the eyelid’s oil gland.
Among the biggest struggles with MRSA infections is that they can spread to virtually any other place in the body. Should this occur, symptoms will typically increase in their severity.
If the infection spreads to internal organs, it can become quite severe; even life threatening.
Additional MRSA symptoms can include:
- low blood pressure
- severe headache
- pain in the joints
- a rash over most of the skin’s surface
- and shortness of breath.
These are indications that immediate medical assistance is required.
If you believe that you may have an undiagnosed MRSA infection at any severity level, it is important to seek professional medical assistance, right away.
What Causes a MRSA Infection?
MRSA infections are caused by a specific type of sphahylococcus aureus bacteria (also known as “staph”) that is resistant to antibiotics. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that under 2 percent of the population carries the MRSA form of staph bacteria.
About one third of the population carries regular staph bacteria (that is, all types, including MRSA) on their skin or in their noses. Typically speaking, this bacteria is harmless unless it makes its way into a wound such as a cut. Even at those times, the majority of healthy people will experience only minor skin issues. This helps to explain why these infections are most common among people who have been hospitalized.
Is MRSA Contagious?
Technically speaking, MRSA is contagious, as it is spread by contact. It is possible to be exposed to MRSA by touching another person who already has it on their skin. It is also possible to touch objects that were touched by people who had it on their skin. About 2 out of every 100 people in the population have MRSA on their skin or in their noses, but the vast majority of them don’t actually have an infection.
How Do You Get MRSA?
Exposure to MRSA bacteria becomes an infection when it enters a wound on the body, such as a cut. Though healthy people will typically have nothing more than a minor skin irritation from this bacteria, people who have weakened immune systems aren’t always as lucky.
It is for this reason that MRSA infections are most common among people who are hospitalized, who are in other health care centers, or who live in nursing homes. These infections may appear around invasive medical devices (such as feeding tube implants or catheters) or around surgical wounds.
That said, while the CDC did note that from 2011 to 2013 (the years in which the most recent data is available), there was a decline of 8 percent in MRSA cases among hospital patients, this superbug is now starting to appear in the healthy population, among people who have not been hospitalized. That form of the bacteria has been called community-associated MRSA, or simply CA-MRSA.
CA-MRSA is not the same strain as MRSA. It is most common in populations – particularly younger people – that have greater skin-to-skin contact and that share close spaces, such as military recruits, prison inmates, sports teams, and kids in daycare.
Is MRSA Curable?
MRSA can be treated. By definition, it is a strain of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics, but there are some treatments that do work. The infection can be cured if the specific strain of MRSA that is causing the infection has not yet shown resistance to another type of antibiotic or alternative treatment.
There are certain cases that respond very well to treatment while there are others that are starting to become resistant to other methods that had previously been considered to be effective.
How is MRSA Treated?
MRSA is often a treatable infection. While it may be resistant to some antibiotics, there are other kinds to which it may not have built up a resistance (such as vancomycin), depending on the strain. Should the bacteria have made its way into the bloodstream, intravenous antibiotics are usually prescribed.
That said, there are few treatments available for MRSA infection, as many strains of the bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. Instead, alternative options that have proven their efficacy, such as blue light, are being used much more regularly.
More Staph & MRSA Related Posts from our Blog
- When Antibiotics Fail: Alternative MRSA Treatment Options for You or Someone You Love
- Light Therapy Options for Staph & MRSA Infection
- What is MRSA? Top 7 MRSA Questions Answered [Pictures]
- Two MRSA Treatments You Probably Haven't Heard of Yet
- Two MRSA Infection Treatments You Probably Haven't Heard of Yet