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What is MRSA?
MRSA stands for "Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus".  Staphylococcus is a bacterium found in the nose or throat of many individuals.  Sometimes antibiotics used to treat an infection can cause this germ to mutate or select a resistant strain; overuse of antibiotics can cause selection of staphylococcus strains to become resistant to antibiotics especially Methicillin. When staphylococcus becomes resistant, it can prevent specific antibiotics, like Methicillin, from killing it.

How Is MRSA Spread?
MRSA can be spread from one person to another by touching someone’s unwashed hands, skin or infected body fluids.

Who Is At Risk?
Persons who are at risk for getting MRSA  include those in nursing homes or hospitals; patients in intensive care units, burn units or organ transplant units are at greatest risk of getting MRSA in the hospital. MRSA can occur in the community due to inappropriate use of antibiotics.

The Symptoms of MRSA
Serious infections caused by MRSA often appear as pneumonia, infection of the blood stream or pus-draining wounds. These conditions can cause fever, an elevated white blood cell count on laboratory tests, and tissue destruction. However, some people can carry the germ and not have any symptoms.

How MRSA Is Diagnosed and Treated
Persons with signs and symptoms suspected of being caused by MRSA can have the illness confirmed by a laboratory test called a culture. Germs in specimens obtained from lung secretions, blood or wound drainage of an ill person can grow in a culture enabling the microbiologist to identify it.  Infection will often be treated with a different antibiotic.

How MRSA Can Be Prevented
The most effective way to prevent spreading MRSA is by thorough hand washing.