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Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

MRSA is also called as Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is a bacterium responsible for infections that are very difficult to treat in humans. It is also called as Multiple resistant Staphylococcus aureus or oxacillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. MRSA is a strain of Staphylococcus aereus that is resistant to a group of antibiotics called the beta lactams which includes penicillin and cephalosporin.

MRSA is a resistant variation of Staphylococcus aureus often referred as staph. It is able to survive treatment with beta lactamase resistant antibiotics including methicillin, oxacillin, nafcillin.

It generally affects the hospital based infections. In the hospitals, patients with open wound, weak immune system and certain invasive devices are susceptible towards developing the infection.

MRSA infection is known for resulting in skin infection apart from other infections. There are various designations given to MRSA like community acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) and hospital acquired MRSA or epidemic MRSA (EMRSA). The resistance towards methicillin is due to penicillin binding protein that is coded by a mobile genetic element called methicillin resistant genes. Staphylococcus aureus is also called as a super bug as it is resistant to many antibiotics. It can also affect the non hospitalized person or persons that have not undergone any operations in the past or those who are not immune deficient. These are called as community based MRSA.

MRSA can be transmitted either by physical contact with infected individuals or those who are carriers of MRSA or by physical contact of a person with objects like door handles, sinks; floors or towels that have been touched previously by MRSA infected individuals or carriers of MRSA disease. In a normal skin tissue the entry of MRSA may not take place. However if there are cuts, abrasions, other skin flaws, MRSA can enter into the body. It is also observed in people with severe burns and skin ulcers, persons with weakened immune system like HIV, elderly individuals, health worker who are exposed to MRSA positive individuals. Hence it is necessary for health workers to wear disposable masks and gloves before dealing with such patients.

MRSA staph infection can be diagnosed by taking a skin sample, pus on the skin, blood or urine sample or tissue sample and it is detected for S.aureus. If S.aureus is present, it is treated with antibiotics like methicillin. If the bacteria grows very well even in the presence of the antibiotic, then it is MRSA and the patient is diagnosed as MRSA infected.

To prevent MRSA infection from spreading, it is necessary to avoid contact with infected individuals or avoid close contact with the items that are frequently handled by individuals with MRSA. Basic cleanliness measures are hand washing with any antiseptic soap after touching a person, covering the wounds or skin cuts with bandage, use of disposable items while in contact with the MRSA patients. Pregnant women can consult the concerned doctors to know if they are suffering from this MRSA skin infection. However the transmission of the MRSA bacteria from the mother to the fetus is less.

People can die due to MRSA disease. The mortality rate is estimated to be about 4 to 10%. Proper care and diet can lower the risk of mortality in MRSA patients.

Submitted on September 4, 2008