Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a serious skin infection that can become life-threatening if left untreated. If you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with MRSA, there are steps you need to take now to avoid spreading it to your family and friends.
Given the recent media attention that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA has received, the Erie County Department of Health has compiled this fact sheet to keep the public informed. The health department is concerned about the spread of MRSA in and outside of the hospital setting. The incidence of Communityacquired (CA)MRSA is increasing, especially among children and young people involved in athletics.
The following information is intended to raise awareness about (CA) MRSA but is not intended to provide a comprehensive medical explanation. For additional information, access the resources listed at the end of the document.
Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph infection that is resistant to certain antibiotics. There are two distinct types of MRSA.
- HAMRSA (hospital acquired) occurs most frequently among people in hospitals and health care facilities who are older, more acutely ill, and have weakened immune systems.
- CAMRSA (community acquired) has become responsible for most of the skin and soft tissue infections seen in healthy people during the past few years.
CAMRSA infections generally start as small painful red bumps that resemble pimples or boils. These quickly can turn into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical drainage. CAMRSA produces toxins that cause a great deal of redness, pain, and inflammation. It can be readily spread among healthy people and has caused recurring infections in some patients as well as outbreaks in families, households, sports teams, and living units.
Main risk factors for CAMRSA:
- Young age. CAMRSA is much more common in younger persons. (<18 y/o)
- Participating in contact sports. CAMRSA affects both amateur and professional sports teams. The bacteria spread easily through cuts and abrasions and skin-to-skin contact.
- Sharing towels or athletic equipment. CAMRSA has spread among athletes sharing razors, towels, uniforms, or equipment.
- Living in crowded or unsanitary conditions.
Keep an eye on minor skin problems—pimples, insect bites, cuts, and scrapes—especially in children. If wounds become infected, tell the affected person and their family to see a doctor and have any skin infection cultured before starting antibiotic therapy. The wrong antibiotic can delay healing.
These commonsense precautions can help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading CAMRSA. Remember that resistance to infection changes, so always take these precautions:
- Wash your hands. In or out of the hospital, careful hand washing remains the best defense against germs. Scrub hands briskly for at least 15 seconds, dry them with a disposable towel, and use another towel to turn off the faucet.
- Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer containing at least 62 percent alcohol for times when you don't have access to soap and water.
- Keep personal items personal. Avoid sharing towels, sheets, razors, clothing, and athletic equipment as MRSA spreads on contaminated objects as well.
- Keep wounds covered. Keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered with sterile, dry bandages until they heal. The pus from infected sores contains MRSA, and keeping wounds covered will help keep the bacteria from spreading.
- Dispose of contaminated bandages so others do not come in contact with them, such as in a plastic bag.
- Wear disposable gloves. Persons who expect to have contact with an infected wound, should wear disposable gloves, and wash their hands before and after removing the gloves.
- Sanitize linens. If you have a cut or sore, wash towels and bed linens in hot water with added bleach and dry in a hot dryer. Wash gym and athletic clothes after each wearing.
- Clean potentially contaminated surfaces with a disinfectant or bleachwater solution after caring for a wound (1 part bleach to 10 parts water)
- Get tested. If you have a skin infection that requires treatment, ask your doctor to get a culture to check for MRSA first. Many doctors prescribe drugs that aren’t effective against antibioticresistan staph, which delays treatment.
- Never take anyone else’s medication to treat any suspected infection you may have.
Please share this information with your community contacts.
Read the Booklet - "Living with MRSA"
This booklet was developed with help from people who are living with MRSA. Follow the recommendations and practice good hygiene to take care of yourself. MRSA may cause physical pain and emotional stress, but keep in mind that it can be managed. This booklet tells you how you can live with MRSA.