MRSA Infection (cont.)
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- MRSA infections facts
- What is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)?
- What does a MRSA infection look like?
- What are the signs and symptoms of MRSA infection?
- How is MRSA infection transmitted or spread?
- How is MRSA diagnosed?
- How can people prevent MRSA infection?
- How should caregivers treat MRSA patients at home?
- What is the prognosis (outlook), and what are the potential complications for people with MRSA infections?
- What is the treatment for MRSA infection?
- What is a "superbug"?
- Where are other MRSA information sources?
- Pictures of MRSA - Slideshow
- Take the MRSA Quiz!
- Pictures of Staph Infection - Slideshow
- MRSA Infection FAQs
- Find a local Infectious Disease Specialist in your town
What does a MRSA infection look like?
On the skin, MRSA infection may begin as a reddish rash with lesion(s) that looks like a pimple or small boil. Often it progresses to an open, inflamed area of skin (as pictured below) that may weep pus or drain other similar fluid. In some instances, it may appear as an abscess, a swollen, tender area, often with reddish skin covering. When the abscess is cut open or spontaneously bursts open, pus drains from the area (see Figure 2). See the first web citation for more clinical MRSA pictures, or see the MRSA slideshow listed above.
What are the signs and symptoms of MRSA infection?
Most MRSA infections are skin infections that produce the following signs and symptoms:
- Cellulitis (infection of the skin or the fat and tissues that lie
immediately beneath the skin, usually starting as small red bumps in the skin
with some areas resembling a bruise)
- Boils (pus-filled
infections of hair follicles)
(collections of pus in or under the skin; see Fig. 2)
- Sty (an
infection of an oil gland of the eyelid)
(infections larger than an abscess, usually with several openings to the skin)
- Impetigo (a
skin infection with pus-filled blisters)
- Rash (skin appears to be reddish or have red-colored areas)
Most of the above signs and symptoms represent the early stages of MRSA infections. One major problem with MRSA (and occasionally with other Staph infections) is that occasionally the skin infection can spread to almost any other organ in the body. When this happens, more severe symptoms develop. MRSA that spreads to internal organs can become life threatening. Fever, chills, low blood pressure, joint pains, severe headaches, shortness of breath, and "rash over most of the body" are symptoms that need immediate medical attention, especially when associated with skin infections. Some CA-MRSA and HA-MRSA infections become severe, and complications such as endocarditis, necrotizing fasciitis, osteomyelitis, sepsis, and death may occur.
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