Contagious Skin Infection --
the Super Bug MRSA
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) also
called the "super bug", is a bacterial skin infection that can
be serious and even deadly.
Approximately one in three healthy individuals carry
this staphylococcus bacteria on the skin, or in their nose
and also possibly in the back of their throat. Those
individuals that are carrying the bacteria but are healthy are
labeled as being colonised, but not infected.
If the bacteria do get under the skin through an opening
such as a wound, then the person can become ill, especially if
it reaches the blood stream.
These bacteria are resistant to most antibiotics, which
makes fighting them difficult.
Individuals who are at most risk for contracting MRSA are
those who have weakened immune systems like those who are
elderly, premature and newborn babies, and those who already
have infection of another nature in their body. Also at risk
for MRSA are those who have burns, open wounds or are going
into surgery or have open entrances into their body that are
manmade like intravenous drip.
Individuals who are in close contact with those infected
with MRSA are also at risk including hospital staff, nursing
home staff and other residential care facilities that have
nursing care associated with them.
It is very important for any health care giver, professional
or not, to have all open cuts or scrapes covered to eliminate
or at least lower the risk of picking up a MRSA infection from
What does MRSA look like? It can appear as pimples or boils.
The area that is infected will look swollen, red and be
painful. Bacteria from MRSA can travel into the bloodstream if
the infected wound is deep. This can cause secondary infections
such as abscesses, osteomyelitis (bone infection), heart valve
infections, urinary tract infections and lung infections such
as pneumonia. Blood poisoning (septicaemia) is also a
These secondary infections can be serious and compromise an
already weakened immune system.
Your doctor will use a culture to determine the
bacteria causing the infection. If the bacteria - S. aureus is
found in the culture, a test will be conducted to see if
methicillin antibiotic will kill the bacteria; if it doesn't
than the diagnosis of MRSA will be made.
Those who are colonised should make an effort to get rid of
or at least reduce the bacteria on their skin, to reduce the
risk of contracting MRSA if a wound should happen. Those
infected with the MRSA bacteria will be treated with
antibiotics that are shown to be able to kill the MRSA
bacterial such as linezolid, teicoplanin or vancomycin.
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