MRSA is a serious infection that can become life-threatening if left untreated.
Some germs that commonly live on the skin and in the nose are called staphylococcus or "staph" bacteria. Usually staph bacteria don't cause any harm. However, sometimes they get inside the body through a break in the skin and cause an infection. These infections are usually treated with antibiotics. When common antibiotics don't kill the staph bacteria, it means the bacteria have become resistant to those antibiotics. This type of staph is called MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus).
Anyone can get MRSA. Infections range from mild to very serious, even life-threatening. MRSA is contagious and can be spread to other people through skin to skin contact. If one person in a family is infected with MRSA, the rest of the family may get it.
MRSA was first identified in the 1960's and was mainly found in hospitals and nursing homes. This occurred because antibiotics were being given to people when they were not needed, and patients were not taking antibiotics as directed. This type of MRSA is referred to as HA-MRSA (Healthcare-Associated MRSA). In the late 1990's, a new type of MRSA was identified. This new type is referred to as CA-MRSA (Community-Associated MRSA). This new type of MRSA is becoming more common among children and adults who do not have medical problems.
Recent reports of strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolated from children in the community have led to speculation that the epidemiology of S. aureus is changing. Epidemiologic features of the cases described in these reports show a major departure from features typically associated with MRSA colonization or infection. Traditionally, MRSA infections have been acquired almost exclusively in hospitals, long-term care facilities, or similar institutional settings.
Risk factors for MRSA colonization or infection in the hospital include...