July 27, 2016

MRSA

What is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)?

Staphylococcus aureus (SA) is a common skin bacteria. It is sometimes called staph, and it can cause skin and other types of infections. Although S. aureus has been causing staph infections as long as humans have existed, MRSA has only been around since 1961. Methicillin was one of the first antibiotics used to treat S. aureus and other infections. S. aureus developed a gene mutation that allowed it to escape being killed by methicillin, so it became resistant to methicillin. That makes it harder to treat someone who gets an infection. Stronger, more expensive, or intravenous antibiotics may be needed.

Since the 1960s, MRSA has picked up more resistance to different antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics has increased resistance in MRSA and other infectious bacteria, because resistance genes (the genes that code for resistance) can be passed from bacteria to bacteria.

If a doctor orders a test for bacteria on a specimen of pus, for example, the laboratory will alert the doctor if the test shows MRSA, so that precautions can be taken, and the right treatment can be started. Continue Reading

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Reviewed on 5/4/2016