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MRSA Recognition, Prevention and Treatment

What is MRSA?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, otherwise known as "staph". Coined by the media as a "super bug", MRSA is resistant to most antibiotics used to treat infections. With limited treatment options available (i.e., vancomycin), preventing the development of MRSA is the best way to treat the infection.

Typically appearing as a small bump, similar to a pimple or spider bite, a MRSA infection will increase in redness over time and may develop pus drainage and/or fever. If not cared for immediately and properly, this infection can quickly develop into a life-threatening condition.

How does Someone Acquire MRSA?

Found in one-third of the population on their skin or in nasal passages, staph bacteria become harmful when they enter the body through a cut or open wound. Spread by close or direct skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin from a cut or abrasion, contaminated surfaces, poor hygiene or crowded conditions, high-risk individuals include team athletes and military recruits.

How is MRSA Prevented?

Wash Your Hands Frequently. Wash your hands for at least 15 seconds using soap and water. When a sink is not available, use waterless hand sanitizer. Shower Immediately after Athletic Games. Use soap, water and a clean towel. Avoid Sharing Personal Items. MRSA can spread through contaminated items such as towels, razors, clothing, and athletic equipment. Keep Wounds Clean and Covered until they Heal. Clean Athletic Equipment and Workout Clothes. Wash athletic clothes after each use. Clean linens using the "hot" water setting, use bleach if appropriate, and dry on the hot setting in the dryer. Non-washable gear should be wiped down with alcohol or an anti-bacterial wipe after each use. Athletic equipment, such as mats, benches or weight grips, should be disinfected after each use with an anti-bacterial solution. When in Doubt, Get it Checked Out. Make an appointment to be tested.

How is MRSA Treated?

Most MRSA infections are treatable with antibiotics. However, if signs and symptoms are ignored, the infection can become serious, even fatal. If you're on medication, yet the infection continues to worsen or looks the same after 3-4 days and/or a fever develops or worsens, seek medical attention immediately. If you're taking antibiotics, follow your medical provider's instructions precisely, even if you're feeling better. Proper prevention and care of an infection or injury the first time decreases the likelihood of it reoccurring.

For additional questions on MRSA or any other sports medicine topic, call the Aurora Sports Medicine Hotline at (414) 219-7776 or (800) 219-7776.