What is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)? — Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is an infection that is hard to cure. Doctors and nurses sometimes call it MRSA or \"Mursa\" for short.
People normally carry all sorts of germs inside their body and on their skin. The body usually controls these germs, so they do no harm. About 1 in 3 people have a germ on their skin called “staph.” In these people, staph usually causes no problems. But if they get a cut or a scrape, the germ can cause an infection.
A staph infection can be mild, and affect only the skin. But if the infection goes deeper into the body, it can be very serious. These more serious infections tend to happen in young children, older adults, and people who cannot fight infection well.
One especially dangerous form of staph infection is the antibiotic resistant form. This form is difficult to treat and get rid of. It involves germs that have learned to outsmart the drugs normally used to kill them.
How do you catch MRSA? — Many people carry MRSA on their skin without knowing it. You can pick up the germ by:
●Touching a person who has MRSA on his or her skin
●Being nearby when a person with MRSA breathes, coughs, or sneezes
●Touching a table, handle or other surface that has the germ on it
If the germ is on your skin and you cut yourself or have another injury, you can get infected.
How do I know if I have a MRSA infection? — If you get a MRSA infection, you will probably have some skin problems. You might have a red tender lump, and it might ooze pus. Or you might have a cluster of bumps that look like pimples or insect bites. If the infection gets into the blood, it can give you a fever or make you feel tired.
If your doctor thinks you have MRSA, he or she can take a swab from your skin and check it for germs. In some cases, blood tests, X-rays, and other tests might be needed.
Can MRSA be treated? — Your doctor can give you special antibiotics — germ-killing medicines — to treat your infection. If you get treated with medicines to take at home, it is very important that you follow the directions exactly. Take ALL the pills you are given, even if you feel better before you finish the pills. If you do not take them all, the germ could come back even stronger.
If you do not get better with the medicines that come in pill form, or if you are very sick, your doctor might put you in the hospital. There he or she can give you stronger medicines through a tube in one of your veins (IV).
Is there any way to prevent MRSA? — People everywhere should wash their hands often with soap and water. But it is especially important for people who are in the hospital or a nursing home. Washing your hands is the best way to prevent most infections.
If you are a patient in a hospital, you should also make sure your doctors and nurses wash their hands before they touch you. If there is no sink, they can use an alcohol-based hand gel to clean up.