Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a potentially serious infection that resists this antibiotic used to treat infections. It may be resistant to many antibiotics, especially if the infection was contracted in a healthcare setting. MRSA can affect the skin, blood, bones, or lungs. A person can either be infected or colonized with MRSA.
There are two types of MRSA infections:
MRSA can spread several ways:
MRSA is caused by bacteria that adapt to repeated exposure to antibiotics, building up a resistance to them.
Factors that may increase your chance of developing MRSA include:
MRSA may not cause any symptoms in people who are colonized, but not infected, with the bacteria. In those that have symptoms, MRSA may cause:
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Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
Antibiotics may given to kill the bacteria based on the location and severity of the infection, and any underlying illness.
Only a few antibiotics are available that can treat MRSA. One that will treat MRSA may be chosen based on what usually works and your culture results.
Your doctor may open the abscess and allow the fluid to drain. Do not attempt to do this on your own.
In many cases this will be the only treatment needed.
Do the following to treat the infection and to keep it from spreading:
Decolonization is a process to help rid your body of the bacteria so you do not reinfect yourself. This process may involve using nasal ointments, washing with special soap, and taking medications, including antibiotics. Decolonization is only recommended in certain cases.
To help reduce your chances of MRSA:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Canadian Dermatology Association
Public Health Agency of Canada
Barton M, Hawkes M, Moore D, et al. Guidelines for the prevention and management of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: A perspective for Canadian health care practitioners. Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol. 2006;17(Suppl C):4C.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T189788/Methicillin-resistant-Staphylococcus-aureus-MRSA. Updated January 6, 2017. Accessed August 18, 2017.
MRSA decolonization. Aurora BayCare Medical Center website. Available at: https://ahc.aurorahealthcare.org/fywb/baycare/x34012bc.pdf. Accessed August 18, 2017.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mrsa. Updated May 16, 2016. Accessed August 18, 2017.
MRSA. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/mrsa.html. Updated June 2014. Accessed August 18, 2017.
6/4/2018 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T189788/Methicillin-resistant-Staphylococcus-aureus-MRSA: Gualandi N, Mu Y, Bamberg WM, et al. Racial disparities in invasive methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infections, 2005-2014. Clin Infect Dis. 2018 Apr 5 [Epub ahead of print].
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP Last Updated: 6/4/2018