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What is MRSA?

Learn what the MRSA infection is, how it spreads, how you can avoid catching it, and what to do once you have it.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,
June 26, 2013
Episode #098

Page 1 of 3

What is MRSA?

Here’s another reason why I’m not a big fan of antibiotics (unless they are absolutely necessary, of course) – Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA). Taking too many antibiotics can make everyday bacteria that lives in our bodies very resistant to treatment. Everyone should learn about MRSA, and if you don’t know what it is, then turn up the volume!

What is MRSA?

Staph Aureus, often referred to as Staph, is a specific type of bacteria that lives on the surface of our skin or in our nostrils in about one third of us. Yes, we all have bacteria thriving off of us all of the time. If Staph breaks through our skin via an opening, such as a cut or a bug bite, it can overgrow and cause an infection. This can look like  a pimple or a boil and is treatable with an antibiotic. But if Staph spreads through the blood or causes a large wound, then it can be more serious.

Staph bacteria can become resistant to other antibiotics over time if we overuse them. MRSA is a special type of Staph that is resistant to many antibiotics, including Methicillin, and is therefore considered more serious since doctors are limited in how we can treat it.  Less than 2% of the general population is colonized by MRSA. The trouble is, it’s growing within our communities. It used to occur only in hospitalized patients. But now because so many people are colonized with it, it is spreading amongst all of us. If someone you know has it, they can pass it on to you via skin contact.

Those infected with MRSA tend to get more frequent skin infections, such as pimples, boils, and abscesses. 

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