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Healthline Connects

What You Need to Know Now about MRSA

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hosted today an important clinician update about community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). School closures and student deaths due to the so called Superbug are dominating the news. How do we protect our loved ones and ourselves?

The main thing the CDC wants us to be aware of is that 80% of these infections are skin infections. Staphylococcus aureus is a very common organism - 60% of us have it in our nose right now. Otherwise healthy people are getting extremely sick due to this infection as it becomes invasive. Why?

The infection presents as a common skin infection. It looks like a skin abscess or is commonly mistaken for a spider bite. It starts as a painful red bump that becomes necrotic (tissue dies). Clinicians assessing it may mistake it for a furuncle, boil or abscess. In newborns it may appear a breakdown of the skin under the diaper. MRSA now belongs in the differential diagnosis of every soft tissue infection. It is one of the most common causes of osteomyelitis after it becomes invasive.

MRSA infection will need to be treated with incision and drainage and antibiotics. If severe and recurrent, the infection will need to be treated aggressively with IV antibiotics and hospitalization.

Risk factors in the community are:
  • Crowded living conditions (military barracks, boarding school)
  • Frequent skin to skin contact (e.g. football)
  • Compromised skin surfaces (e.g. turf burns - football)
  • Sharing contaminated items (e.g. towels - football)
Prevention tactics:
  • Good personal hygiene and cleanliness
  • Keep all cuts and scrapes clean and covered
  • Clean all common surfaces with commercially available disinfectants
  • Alcohol based hand sanitizers are as effective as hand washing for MRSA per CDC
  • Shower immediately after contact sports
  • Wear uniforms and practice clothes only one time
  • Wash uniforms and practice clothes in hot water and soap
  • Do not share soap, towels, deodorant or razors
  • Clean and disinfect athletic gear, equipment and gym areas
  • Report any infections to school nurse and coach
  • Avoid contact with other people's infections
Every patient with an MRSA infection needs thorough patient education about wound care. This is crucial to prevent further infection and spread in the community.

Thank you dan wandery for use of photo: Priceless.
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