Nassau County Department of Health
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
What is Staphylococcus aureus?
Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as "staph," are bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Approximately 25% to 30% of healthy adults carry the bacteria. Sometimes, staph can cause an infection. Most of these skin infections are minor (such as pimples and boils) and can be treated without antibiotics. Rarely staph bacteria can cause serious infections such as surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia.
What is MRSA?
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph that is resistant to some commonly prescribed antibiotics. While 25% to 30% of the population carries staph, only 1% carries MRSA. Staph infections, including MRSA, occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities who have weakened immune system's.
How is MRSA Spread?
Factors that have been associated with the spread of MRSA skin infections include: close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions and poor hygiene.
What does a MRSA skin infection look like?
A skin infection with MRSA may begin as a reddened area that can look like a pimple or boil. This area may become red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage.
How can MRSA infections be prevented?
Careful hand washing is the single most effective way to control the spread of community-associated MRSA. Everyone should take the following steps to protect themselves from MRSA:
- Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
- Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
Are staph and MRSA infections treatable?
If you think you have a staph or MRSA infection, you should see your healthcare provider. Most staph and MRSA infections are treatable. If you are given an antibiotic, take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless your doctor tells you to stop taking it. Do not share antibiotics with other people or save unfinished antibiotics to use at another time.
If after visiting your healthcare provider the infection is not getting better after a few days, contact him or her again. If other people you know or live with get the same infection tell them to go to their healthcare provider.
Where can I get further information on MRSA?
Student Guide for Control and Prevention (MRSA)
Coaches Guide for Control and Prevention (MRSA)
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