Essential Information About a Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA Infection

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a type of staph infection that is resistant to many antibiotics. A majority of people become infected by MRSA in a hospital setting, but it is also spread in the community at large. An MRSA infection can have serious and even fatal consequences. Thus, everyone needs to have an essential understanding of MRSA bacteria and about MRSA infections.

What Are the First Signs of MRSA Infection?

An MRSA infection can rapidly worsen, a reality which underscores the need to be vigilant about detecting and responding to this type of infection immediately. The first signs of an MRSA infection can seem innocuous and are easily confused for something else. An MRSA infection can present itself as nothing more than a tiny pimple or perhaps a petite spider bight. Indeed, an MRSA infection initially fairly routinely is confused with both.

In short speed, the initial signs of an MRSA infection include the site becoming warm to touch and full of puss. Fever oftentimes is exhibited. These symptoms become aggravated in a short period of time.

Does an MRSA Infection Spread Quickly?

MRSA infections sometimes remain confined to the skin. With that said these infections can spread in the skin rapidly. The key is trying to contain the spread, which is challenging because of the fact that it is resistant to antibiotics. Painful abscesses develop that necessitate surgical draining. This manual draining of abscesses is a crucial element of eliminating at least some of the bacteria from a person’s body.

In some cases, MRSA bacteria burrows deep into an individual’s body. This burrowing process can also occur in short speed. If MRSA burrows into a person’s body, a great deal of an individual’s system can be at risk. When MRSA goes below skin level, it can cause life-threatening infections in a number of locations including:

  • Bones
  • Joints
  • Surgical Wounds (external and internal)
    Heart valves
  • Lungs
  • Bloodstream

If MRSA ends up in a person’s bloodstream, this nearly always is a life-threatening condition. Because of the gravity of an MRSA and due to its rapid ability to spread, a person who exhibits any early symptom of the infection must seek medical attention immediately.

How Contagious Is the MRSA Virus?

Medical authorities, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, classifies MRSA as highly contagious. The reason MRSA is given this classification rests in the fact that it can be contracted in a number of ways.

MRSA can be contracted via person to person contact. If a person has MRSA bacteria on his or her skin, the bacteria can be transferred to someone else even if the carrier is not infected with it. An individual not infected by MRSA but carrying the bacteria on his or her skin is said to be “colonized with MRSA.”

A person carrying MRSA on his or her skin can leave the bacteria on objects he or she touches. What is particularly alarming is the fact that when MRSA bacteria is deposited on an object it can survive and remain viable for a period of two to six months. A person can become infected with MRSA by coming into contact with such an object.

A key factor to understand about MRSA infection is that a person can only develop such an infection if the bacteria pass into a break in the skin, like a cut or abrasion. The skin damage can be very small and provide a gateway for the virus. If a person does not have a sore or other skin issue and comes into contact with MRSA bacteria, that individual can become colonized with it and a carrier of it, spreading MRSA to others.

How Does a Person Get MRSA?

The manner in which a person contracts MRSA has been generally discussed a moment ago. Because of the importance of avoiding contracting this potentially fatal infection, diving deeper into contracting MRSA is important.

As has been noted, primary methods of contracting MRSA include coming into contact with an infected individual or with a person who is not infected but is carrying the bacteria on his or her skin. In addition, a person can get MRSA by coming into contact with an object on which the bacteria are present.

It is also possible to contract MRSA through airborne contact. MRSA can be found in a person’s nose, even if that individual is not infected with the bacteria. When such a person sneezes, MRSA bacteria are expelled from the nose. If the sneeze is not appropriately shielded, the bacteria can travel and land on another individual or on objects, ultimately resulting in the spread of infection by MRSA.

There are cases in which a person infected his or her self with the MRSA virus. This happens when an individual is colonized by MRSA or has MRSA bacteria living on his or her skin. If that individual does something like nick his or her self while shaving, he or she can infect his or her self with the MRSA virus.

Some sort of break in the skin is necessary to become infected with MRSA. The break in the skin need not be significant in order to result in MRSA infection.

How Dangerous Is MRSA?

In a word: highly.

MRSA is highly dangerous.

According to the CDC, over 80,000 people in the United States have invasive MRSA infections every year. This is the type of MRSA infection that goes below the skin and burrows deeper into a person’s body. Of this number, 11,000 people die annually from an invasive MRSA infection. Many more people are afflicted with MRSA infections that remain contained in the skin.

How Long Is a Person Infected and Contagious With MRSA?

When it comes to an MRSA infection, such a malady can persist for weeks or even months. Again, because MRSA is resistant to antibiotics, treating it is a challenge.

A person can be contagious with or a carrier of MRSA without being infected by it. Thus, an individual presents no evidence that he or she is a carrier of the bacteria. As noted previously, MRSA can survive on the surface of an object for two to six months. Thus, an individual can carry MRSA bacteria with the risk of potentially infecting someone for an extended period of time.