For several decades now, the term Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or “MRSA” has floated in and out of public consciousness. This type of infection is quite dangerous and subsequently, one that we should all be aware of. What exactly is MRSA?
MRSA: The Basics
MRSA is an infection that is brought on by exposure to a special strain of the Staphylococcus bacteria. Staphylococcus is a fairly common bacteria that lives on the surface of the skin of many people. What makes this particular brand of Staphylococcus so special is its ability to resist most drugs that were able to treat it at one time before. Through time and adaptation, the bacteria has become drug-resistant and very difficult to get rid of once received.
The first case of MRSA in the US was recorded in 1968. Just prior to this, British scientists had identified the bacteria’s recently developed immunity to antibiotics. Since these initial discoveries, MRSA has seen several outbreaks and subsequent lulls in activity, never fully reaching extinction.
MRSA is often mistaken as some other condition or insect bite when first seen. It almost always first manifests as an area of redness and irritation. As the infection continues its lifecycle in the host, the red area becomes more infected, swollen, and often full of puss. Left untreated, the infection spreads from this locality to the rest of the body. What can follow are:
- lung infection
- blood infection
- even death
Communicability and Prevention
MRSA is a bacteria that is easily communicated through simple skin contact. Some of the most common areas in which it is found include:
- public transportation facilities
- locker rooms
- sports venues
These places contain more of this bacteria because it is here that plenty of skin cells, sweat, and bacteria are introduced into the environment on a regular basis by the masses.
As MRSA is solely contracted by skin contact, methods of preventing its spread focus mainly on matters of the skin. Proper environmental hygiene is a crucial part of all prevention efforts. This involves regular sanitizing and cleaning of areas frequented by large groups of people. Personal awareness is also key. Limiting skin contact in these areas as well as maintaining proper, personal hygiene are each person’s responsibility in prevention.
There are two main ways in which MRSA infection is treated. The first way is through localized procedure and treatment. Here, the doctor can often remove the infected skin area and its infected contents. Local antibiotics and other bacteria-inhibiting compounds are then applied to the wound in anticipation of healing and cure.
Outside of localized procedures, there are a number of antibiotics that currently do show some efficacy in fighting off the infection. The selection here is limited though due to MRSA’s inherent drug resistance. Science is still investigating how to further deal with MRSA.
MRSA is a powerful infection that should be treated with respect and a good dose of awareness. The details contained here are simply the basics of this highly complex, drug-resistant bacteria. For more information on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus as well as other important, public health concerns, visit the official website of the US government’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.