MRSA Information

What is MRSA? 

MRSA is a form of staph infection that is resistant to methicillin, a type of antibiotic.  Though once found almost exclusively in health care facilities, strains of MRSA are increasingly common as a cause of skin and soft tissue infections in people who have no previous contact with healthcare. These strains are sometimes referred to as community-associated MRSA.

What are the signs of an MRSA infection? 

MRSA infections often begin as skin or soft tissue lesions such as a boil or abscess and/or cellulitis, many people report a spot or sore that looks like a spider bite.  Sometimes it can look like a big pimple on the skin.  Once the person visits the physician and begins antibiotics, the infection may not improve or may continue to worsen.  Any time an infection does not improve after antibiotics are started, the health care provider should be contacted.  The physican may order more antibiotics over the phone or have the patient return to the office for a wound culture.

How do you know an infection is MRSA?

MRSA infection can only be determined through laboratory testing.   A sample or culture of the drainage from the infected area must be obtained by a physician or at a laboratory to determine the bacteria that is causing the infection.  Remember, the majority of staph infections are not MRSA.

What is the treatment for MRSA? 

Treatment for these infections usually begins with antibiotics.  If the wound is not improving or worsening, a culture of the wound is taken to determine the exact germ that is causing the infection.  The physician may change the antibiotic or add a second antibiotic at this time.  Sometimes the wound may need to be cut open to allow the infection to drain.  If symptoms such as fever, feeling bad, or signs of respiratory infection occur, hospital treatment for IV antibiotics and/or other supportive care may be needed. 

How is MRSA spread? 

MRSA is spread by contact with the germ.  This can happen when a person comes in contact with the wound drainage or with areas that are contaminated with this drainage. The germ then has to enter an open wound before an infection can occur. 

What should I do to prevent this infection? 

Handwashing remains the number one defense to fight infection.  Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, washing for at least 15 seconds to remove dirt and bacteria.  Handwashing gels that contain alcohol have been found effective.  Do not share personal care items such as towels, razors, soap, etc.  Eat a balanced diet with at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Get plenty of rest so that your immune system is in top fighting form.  Clean  common surfaces with a 1:100 solution of diluted bleach (1 tablespoon bleach in 1 quart water) or other disinfection agent.

What should I do if I have MRSA to prevent spreading this germ? 

Keep wounds and lesions covered with clean, dry bandages.   Wash hands or use alcohol hand gels after touching infected skin or bandages.  Avoid sharing personal items (e.g., towels, washcloths, razors).  Be on the lookout for similar infections in family members and/or close contacts.  Notify your school nurse or coach if you have been told that you have this germ.

For more information, contact your health care provider, your local health department, visit