Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of Staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin. MRSA is one example of a so-called “superbug,” an informal term used to describe a strain of bacteria that has become resistant to the antibiotics usually used to treat it.
MRSA first appeared in patients in hospitals and other health facilities, especially among the elderly, the very sick, and those with an open wound (such as a bedsore) or catheter in the body. In these settings, MRSA is referred to as health care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA).
MRSA has since been found to cause illness in the community outside of hospitals and other health facilities and is known as community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) in this setting. MRSA in the community is associated with recent antibiotic use,
MRSA infections are usually mild superficial infections of the skin that can be treated successfully with proper skin care and antibiotics. MRSA, however, can be difficult to treat and can progress to life-threatening blood or bone infections because there are fewer effective antibiotics available for treatment.
The transmission of MRSA is largely from people with active MRSA skin infections. MRSA 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, sports equipment) contaminated by the infected skin of a person with MRSA.