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Community Associated  MRSA

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus: Staphylococcus aureus (a type of staph bacteria) resistant to the antibiotic methicillin.   Abbreviated- MRSA.  MRSA was first discovered in the UK in 1961 among persons in hospitals and other health facilities, especially among the elderly and the very sick.  MRSA has since been found to cause illness in the community outside of hospitals and other health facilities and is now widespread among the general public around the world.  

MRSA infections typically cause skin lesions such as boils which may appear similar to a “spider bite”. MRSA infections are usually mild superficial infections of the skin that can be treated successfully with proper skin care and antibiotics. Without treatment or proper precautions MRSA can also cause severe spreading infections, growing open and running abscesses, and other serious illness.  It is sometimes referred to as the "flesh-eating disease" causing large gaping wounds capable of extensive scarring. MRSA is commonly termed a Super Bug because it is highly infectious and antibiotic resistant. For these reasons MRSA can be very difficult, timely, and costly to treat. In sever cases MRSA can quickly turn into deep painful abscesses that may require daily hospital intravenous antibiotic treatments and surgical draining.

People who are not in good health, already ill, and with weakened immune systems may be at higher risk of contracting MRSA or more severe illness if infected.  MRSA can be difficult to treat and can progress to life-threatening blood or bone infections and pneumonia because there are fewer effective antibiotics available for treatment. Some, including children and elderly experience sometimes fatal conditions and have died from MRSA.

MRSA in the community is often associated with recent antibiotic over-use, sharing contaminated items, having active skin diseases, and living in crowded settings.  Studies have shown skin infections caused by MRSA have clustered among injecting drug-users, prison inmates, athletes in close-contact sports, military recruits, children, elderly, Homosexuals, HIV positive, and high-risk sex and drug-using behaviors.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks have also been linked to unlicensed body piercing and tattoo artists.

The transmission of MRSA is largely from people with active MRSA skin infections and is almost always spread by direct physical contact, and not through the air. Spread may also occur through indirect contact by touching objects (such as towels, sheets, wound dressings, clothes, workout areas and sports equipment contaminated by the infected skin of a person with MRSA. Just as staph aureus can be carried on the skin or in the nose without causing any disease, MRSA can be carried in this way also. This is known as colonization.

If someone has an MRSA infection, they can help from spreading it by keeping infections, particularly those that continue to produce pus or to drain material, covered with clean, dry bandages; by advising close contacts to wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water, especially if they change the bandages or touch the infected wound or potentially infectious materials; by not sharing personal items (such as towels, washcloth, razor, clothing) that may have had contact with the infected wound; by washing linens and clothes with hot water and laundry detergent and drying them in a hot dryer; and by telling healthcare providers that you have an antibiotic-resistant staph skin infection.  

How can I prevent staph or MRSA skin infections? 

 Practice Good Hygiene: 

  1. Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and hot water.
  2. Wiping hands and surfaces with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  3. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
  4. Avoid contact with other people’s wounds, bandages, and clothing.
  5. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, razors, and utensils. 
  6. Use a barrier (clothing or a towel) between your skin and shared items and surfaces.
  7. Wiping surfaces of equipment and items before and after use.
  8. Use good sanitary sense when dealing with the public and public facilities.
  9. If possible avoid repeated long term or unnecessary use of antibiotics.
  10. Stay well- maintain a healthy lifestyle, eating habits, and immune system. 

Information Links: 

MRSA - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

MRSA - Mayo Clinic


MRSA Watch

MRA Notes



This site is intended as a resource to provide Sutter Coast Hospital Patients better access to free or low cost medical coverage. For more help and information contact:


Debbie Youtsey - Patient Services - Sutter Coast Hospital

800 E. Washington Blvd. PO Box 2009 Crescent City CA 95531

Phone: (707)464-8960      Fax: (707)464-8839



Official Sutter Web Sites:  Sutter Coast Hospital   Sutter Health   Find a Doctor