Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as “staph,” is commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 25% to 30% of the population is colonized with staph bacteria in the nose or on the skin. Staph is among the most common causes of skin infections in the United States. Most of these skin infections are minor (such as pimples and boils) and can be treated without antibiotics. However, in some instances staph can cause serious infections that require antibiotic treatment.
Some staph bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a type of staph that is resistant to some antibiotics including methicillin and its close cousins oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin. While 25 percent to 30 percent of the population is colonized with staph, only about 1 percent normally carries MRSA.
Close skin-to-skin contact, cuts, abrasions and poor hygiene have been linked to the spread of MRSA. Frequent hand washing and good hygiene are among the best preventative measures to avoid infection.
MRSA has been around for a number of years and occurs most frequently among people in health-care facilities and who have weakened immune systems but can be seen in the general population as well. Community-acquired MRSA infections (CA-MRSA) usually involve infections of the skin or soft tissue (such as pimples, boils and abscesses) and occur in otherwise healthy people. CA-MRSA is usually easy to treat.
Although MRSA has been isolated from environmental surfaces (e.g., floors, work areas, medical equipment), these are not considered to be the most important sources for spread. However, it is important to routinely clean shared items like athletic equipment.
Posters containing information on MRSA prevention are available for download from the CDC at:
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and PA Department of Health