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MRSA: The Superbug of Staph Infections

In science class, you learned that organisms will adapt to better survive in their chosen environments. The MRSA infection did just this and evolved to be resistant to certain antibiotics. Read on to learn what that means for you and your health.

What Is MRSA?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a mutated strain of the Staphylococcus infection. Staph bacteria typically live on the skin and in the nose of healthy individuals, but if they rapidly multiply inside a cut or wound, they can cause an infection. A staph infection is typically treated with antibiotics either given orally or through an IV. However, an entire family of antibiotics commonly used for the treatment of staph infections, including dicloxacillin and cefazolin, are ineffective at treating MRSA since it has evolved to resist them.

What Are the Symptoms of MRSA?

MRSA has a wide range of symptoms, including a rash, fever, shortness of breath, a cough, and fatigue. The most telling symptom is painful bumps on the skin that look like bug bites or pimples. The bump might have a white or yellow head in the middle, have a red, warm rash (cellulitis) surrounding it, or have pus or other discharge.

Who Is at Risk?

Some risk factors for MRSA include having a weakened immune system, having stayed in a hospital in the last three months, living in a nursing home, working with children, playing contact sports, sharing personal items (such as a razor or towel), and regularly having hemodialysis (a process people with kidney failure undergo during which an artificial kidney filters blood to remove waste and excess water). People who have recently had surgery or have had a medical device implanted are also at risk.

How Do You Prevent MRSA?

Just like any other infection, you can prevent MRSA by washing your hands regularly. If you have any cuts or wounds, be sure to clean them and keep them covered to avoid infection. If someone has MRSA, disinfect all surfaces and wash any clothing, towels, and linens he or she came into contact with. Lastly, don’t share personal items, like razors, with anyone.

How Is MRSA Treated?

Depending on the severity of the case, your doctor might treat MRSA with oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotics. He or she can also open up the wound and drain the infected fluid instead of prescribing antibiotics.

When Should You Go to the ER?

MRSA can develop into a blood infection, a urinary tract infection, sepsis, or pneumonia. If you experience symptoms such as a fever, a rash, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a cough, you should seek emergency medical attention.

If you find yourself having severe symptoms, don’t hesitate to head to an emergency room. The experienced staff at CHI St. Luke’s Health emergency departments can treat your condition with the utmost care.

Sources:
Healthline | MRSA (Staph) Infection
Healthline | Dialysis
Baylor College of Medicine | Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
E Medicine Health | Staph Infection (Staphylococcus Infection)