MRSA is a potentially dangerous type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics and may cause skin and other infections. Recent data show that Americans visit the doctor approximately 12 million times each year to get checked for suspected MRSA skin infection. A breakout of MRSA can have a devastating impact on unit readiness and accomplishing the mission. The good news is that a few simple steps can prevent and reduce the spread of MRSA. The goal of the National MRSA Education Initiative is to help Americans better recognize and prevent MRSA skin infections.

What are the signs and symptoms of MRSA?
As with all regular staph infections, recognizing the signs and receiving treatment for MRSA skin infections in the early stages reduces the chances of the infection becoming severe. It is especially important to contact your healthcare professional if signs and symptoms of an MRSA skin infection are accompanied by a fever.

Most staph skin infections, including MRSA, appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that may be:
• Red
• Swollen
• Painful
• Warm to the touch Full of pus or other drainage
• MRSA can be accompanied by a fever.

How is MRSA spread?
• Having direct contact with another person’s infection.
• Sharing personal items, such as towels or razors, that have touched infected skin.
• Touching surfaces or items, such as used bandages, contaminated with MRSA.

What if I suspect an MRSA skin infection?
Cover the area with a bandage and contact your healthcare professional.

How are MRSA skin infections treated?
Treatment for MRSA skin infections may include having a healthcare professional drain the infection and, in some cases, prescribe an antibiotic. Do not attempt to drain the infection yourself "doing so could worsen or spread it to others. If you are given an antibiotic, be sure to take all of the doses (even if the infection is getting better), unless your healthcare professional tells you to stop taking it.

How can I protect my family from MRSA skin infections?
• Know the signs of MRSA skin infections and get treated early.
• Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered.
• Encourage good hygiene such as cleaning hands regularly.
• Discourage sharing of personal items such as towels and razors.

For more information:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/MRSA

Page last updated Tue May 31st, 2011 at 00:00