Answers FAQ

MRSA Infection FAQs

Reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

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Q:MRSA describes a specific type of bacteria that are resistant to certain antibiotics. True or False?

A:True.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) describes a specific type of staph bacterium that is resistant to many antibiotics.

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Q:Is MRSA contagious?

A:Yes.

MRSA is contagious. It is a bacterium that can be transmitted from person-to-person, or it can even be picked up by touching a surface where the bacteria are present. Some people seem to be more susceptible to MRSA infections.

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Q:The term "superbug" is a commonly used word to describe MRSA. True or False?

A:True.

A "superbug" is a common term used to describe bacteria or other microorganisms that are resistant or have become resistant to common medical treatments. In this case, a Staph bacterium has become resistant to the most commonly used antibiotics.

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Q:Where are MRSA bacteria most likely found?

A:MRSA is the most common cause of Staph infections in hospitals.

While most MRSA cases originate from hospital sources, anyone can become infected. Risks for acquiring MRSA include close living quarters (military barracks, dorms, prisons, nursing homes, etc.), contact sports, and job exposure for health care workers.

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Q:Some of us carry MRSA bacteria on our bodies. Where?

A:The nose, armpits, groin, and buttocks are areas of our skin that contain large amounts of Staph bacteria.

The nose and nasal passages can become colonized (harbor bacteria) with MRSA.

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Q:What is the best defense against MRSA?

A:Using good hygiene, frequently washing hands, and avoiding contact with people known to have MRSA are the best ways to avoid the disease.

There is currently no vaccine for MRSA.

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Q:MRSA most often enters the body through droplets from coughing or sneezing. True or False?

A:False.

MRSA is most often spread through direct contact with the bacteria and your skin. Prevent MRSA with proper hygiene such as hand washing, keeping wounds clean and covered, and not sharing personal hygiene items.

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Q:MRSA can cause sepsis, which is an infection of the blood. True or False?

A:True.

Any bacterial or viral infection can cause sepsis, which is a severe infection of the blood that can be life-threatening or fatal. Severe MRSA infections of the skin, sinuses, or upper respiratory system can overwhelm the body's immune defenses and lead to sepsis.

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Q:A MRSA skin infection can often mimic a spider bite. True or False?

A:True.

A MRSA skin infection can often mimic a spider bite. MRSA skin infections tend to cause pockets of infection called abscesses. These abscesses can become full of pus and can be very painful. These abscesses start out as very small pimple-like red bumps and they are often confused for insect or spider bites.

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Q:What are complications of a MRSA infection?

A:Severe and rapidly spreading Staph infections of the skin can result in "flesh-eating" disease (necrotizing fasciitis).

Though most MRSA infections are on the skin, other body systems can become susceptible to MRSA infections. MRSA infection of the lungs can lead to pneumonia. Any severe MRSA infection can result in death.

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Q:The skin condition cellulitis can be caused by MRSA or by other bacterial types. True or False?

A:True.

Cellulitis is an infection of the skin. The infected skin appears red, and is tender and warm to the touch. Any type of bacterial infection in the skin can cause cellulitis, including MRSA.

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