Outside of Healthcare Settings
In the community (where you live, work, shop, and go to school), MRSA most often causes skin infections. In some cases, it causes pneumonia (lung infection) and other infections. If left untreated, MRSA infections can become severe and cause sepsis2—the body’s extreme response to an infection.
Sepsis happens when an infection you already have —in your skin, lungs, urinary tract, or somewhere else—triggers a chain reaction throughout your body.
Without timely treatment, sepsis can rapidly lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.
In Healthcare Settings
In places such as a hospital or nursing home, MRSA can cause severe problems such as
- bloodstream infections3. Central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) result in thousands of deaths each year and billions of dollars in added costs to the U.S. healthcare system, yet these infections are preventable.
- pneumonia4. Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs. Many germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, can cause pneumonia. You can also get pneumonia by inhaling a liquid or chemical. People most at risk are older than 65 or younger than 2 years of age or already have health problems. Symptoms of pneumonia vary from mild to severe. See your doctor promptly if you
- Have a high fever
- Have shaking chills
- Have a cough with phlegm that doesn’t improve or gets worse
- Develop shortness of breath with normal daily activities
- Have chest pain when you breathe or cough
- Feel suddenly worse after a cold or the flu
Your doctor will use your medical history, a physical exam, and lab tests to diagnose pneumonia. Treatment depends on what kind you have. If bacteria are the causes,
antibiotics should help. If you have viral pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine to treat it.
Preventing pneumonia is always better than treating it.
- Vaccines are available to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia and the flu. Other preventive measures include washing your hands frequently and not smoking.
- surgical site infections5. A surgical site infection is an infection that occurs after surgery in the part of the body where the surgery took place. Surgical site infections can sometimes be superficial infections involving the skin only. Other surgical site infections are more serious and can involve tissues under the skin, organs, or implanted material. CDC provides guidelines and tools to the healthcare community to help end surgical site infections and resources to help the public understand these infections and take measures to safeguard their own health when possible.
For more information visit MRSA in healthcare settings.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can get MRSA. The risk increases with activities or places that involve crowding, skin-to-skin contact, and shared equipment or supplies. Some of the people who carry MRSA can go on to get an MRSA infection. Non-intact skin, such as when there are abrasions or incisions, is often the site of an MRSA infection. Athletes, daycare and school students, military personnel in barracks, and those who receive inpatient medical care or have surgery or medical devices inserted in their bodies are at higher risk of MRSA infection.
MRSA is usually spread in the community by contact with infected people or things that are carrying the bacteria. This includes through contact with a contaminated wound or by sharing personal items, such as towels or razors, that have touched infected skin.
The opioid epidemic may also be connected to the rise of staph infections in communities. People who inject drugs are 16 times more likely to develop a serious staph infection.
More about injection drug use and risk of infection on this factsheet pdf icon[PDF – 2 pages]
How common is MRSA?
Approximately 5% of patients in U.S. hospitals carry MRSA in their nose or on their skin.
You can take these steps to reduce your risk of MRSA infection:
- Maintain good hand and body hygiene. Clean hands often, and clean your body regularly, especially after exercise.
- Keep cuts, scrapes, and wounds clean and covered until healed.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as towels and razors.
- Get care early if you think you might have an infection.
What are the symptoms of MRSA Infection?
The symptoms of an MRSA infection depend on the part of the body that is infected. For example, people with MRSA skin infections often can get swelling, warmth, redness, and pain in infected skin. In most cases, it is hard to tell if an infection is due to MRSA or another type of bacteria without laboratory tests that your doctor can order. Some MRSA skin infections can have a fairly typical appearance and can be confused with a spider bite. However, unless you see the spider, the irritation is likely not a spider bite.
Most S. aureus skin infections, including MRSA, appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that might be:
- warm to the touch
- full of pus or other drainage
- accompanied by a fever
You cannot tell by looking at the skin if it’s a staph infection (including MRSA).
Getting medical care early makes it less likely that the infection will become serious.
If you or someone in your family experiences the signs and symptoms of MRSA:
- Contact your healthcare provider, especially if the symptoms are accompanied by a fever.
- Do not pick at or pop the sore.
- Cover the area with clean, dry bandages until you can see a healthcare provider.
- Clean your hands often
How do I prevent the spread of MRSA?
- Cover your wounds with clean, dry bandages until healed.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about proper care of the wound. Pus from infected wounds can contain MRSA.
- Do not pick at or pop the sore.
- Throw away bandages and tape with the regular trash.
- Clean your hands often.
You, your family, and others in close contact should wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub, especially:
- after changing a bandage
- after touching an infected wound
- after touching dirty clothes
- Do not share personal items such as towels, washcloths, razors, and clothing, including uniforms.
- Wash laundry before use by others and clean your hands after touching dirty clothes.
Jay Harold hopes you enjoyed this post, “This post “MRSA: 5% of U.S. Hospital Patients Have It” seeks to provide helpful information about this infection.” Please share it on Facebook and Twitter. and read more about Jay Harold here. Please take this advice from Muhammad Ali and give back to others. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”