An Overview of MRSA

Newspapers and television broadcasts have been reporting cases of MRSA infections in some schools and communities around the country so it’s important you have information about this health issue. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a type of staphylococcus bacteria that can cause what is known as a staph infection. As the name implies, MRSA is resistant to certain types of antibiotics that normally help heal staph infections. Although generally not dangerous, staph infections, including MRSA infections, can lead to serious problems including bloodstream infections and pneumonia.

Staph infections do not always cause problems and, as a matter of fact, about 25-30% of the U.S. population carry staph on their bodies at any time. However, sometimes staph will cause an infection. A staph induced infection includes pimples, rashes, pus-filled boils and other skin problems. These infections tend to be warm, painful, red and swollen. If you develop a staph infection, keep the area clean and dry. See your doctor, especially if the infection is large and painful and does not seem to be healing by itself. Lab tests will assist your doctor in determining the most effective antibiotic with the infection. If the doctor prescribes medication, be sure to complete the entire prescription.

What can you do to avoid this type of infection? Regular handwashing is the best way to prevent getting and spreading staph and the resulting infection. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered. Avoid contact with other people’s wounds. Most importantly, avoid sharing personal items such as towels, washcloths, toothbrushes and razors. Athletes and others who find themselves in close quarters such as gyms, fitness centers and locker rooms seem to be more prone to staph infections including MRSA. Therefore, take particular care in those environments.

If you develop a staph infection of any type and medication is prescribed, continue using the medication as directed. If the infection has not improved within a few days after using the medication, contact your doctor again.

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