MRSA is a contagious bacteria that may cause infection. It is difficult to treat because it is resistant to the most commonly used antibiotics.
The history of MRSA is related to the advent of penicillin. Penicillin was discovered in 1925, isolated in the 1930’s and commonly used by the mid 1940’s. By the late 1950’s, there were some resistance to penicillin, so a synthetic alternative was created in the form of methicillin in 1959. MRSA was first recognized in 1961.
What makes MRSA resistant?
When penicillin is able to bind to the binding protein of the cell wall, disruption of the cell wall and destruction of the bacteria is possible. However, if the staph aureus acquires the mecA gene, then it can alter the penicillin binding protein, making the bacteria resistant to all penicillin.
Where does MRSA occur?
The infection can occur in different parts of the body. Approximately 1/3 of all people carry MRSA harmlessly in the nose, throat, or in the skin.
How is MRSA spread?
The primary way of transmitting MRSA is through direct contact of another person, object that has it, or from sneeze droplets of an infected person. 30% of staph bacteria lives in the nose.
Symptoms of MRSA:
MRSA may also cause pneumonia and urinary tract infections. Health professionals call MRSA the “super bug” since MRSA can be hard to treat. MRSA may also develop resistance to Vancomycin, which is supposed to be the best treatment for the MRSA bacteria. It is a constant battle when dealing with MRSA and doctors are developing new antibiotics to deal with the changing resistance of the bacteria.
MRSA typically occurs in people with weak immune systems. It occurs in hospitals, nursing homes, intensive care units, surgical wounds, and implanted devices. MRSA is seen more in the younger population—even in children—and may show up in otherwise healthy individuals who have not received any type of hospital care. It is also commonly seen in athletes and military personnel.
MRSA is diagnosed by examining a swab or culture. Internal infections may need to have a blood culture done.
The standard treatment for skin infections is oral antibiotics given for 7-10 days. In addition to antibiotics, drainage of the infected abscess may be done with a needle or with a small incision. NEVER drain the abscess or boil on your own as this may worsen the infection. The best treatment, is proper hand washing.
Treatment of severe infections may need to be done in a hospital with IV antibiotics such as Vancomycin. Treatment for patients with nasal colonization but no infection is 2% Mupirocin ointment applied to the nares 2-3 times a day.
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