MRSA is an acronym for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that has become resistant to many antibiotics, including methicillin, penicillin, amoxicillin and cephalosporins. Once limited to hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities, MRSA infections are now very common among healthy children and adults in the community. MRSA can spread through physical contact with an infected person or something you’ve touched. Conditions that help to spread MRSA include: close skin-to-skin contact; cuts or scrapes in the skin; sharing personal hygiene articles such as razors and towels; and contact with contaminated items including door handles and athletic equipment. One in 100 people carry the bacteria on their bodies but don’t get sick. Household pets can carry MRSA, where it can linger without obvious symptoms and possibly reinfect the pet owners. Most MRSA infections aren’t serious, some can be life-threatening.
MRSA infections can look exactly like ordinary staph infections of the skin: a small red bump, pimple or boil. The area may be red, painful, swollen or warm to the touch. Pus or other fluids may drain from the sore. Most MRSA skin infections are mild but they can change, becoming deeper and more serious.
MRSA is suspect in a boil or abscess not responding to routine antibiotics. Definitive diagnosis is made by performing a culture. Once the bacteria is identified appropriate antibiotics can be initiated. In that case, the abscess may need to be drained or the wound needs to be changed to a stronger or different antibiotic to treat the infection.
Proper cleansing and topical antibiotics may be the only treatments. In more severe cases oral antibiotics are needed, these may include clindamycin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, or linezolid. In more invasive cases intravenous antibiotics are required.