Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is MSRA?

 MSRA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, is a staph bacterium which causes infections in different parts of the body. Garden-variety staph are common bacteria which live on our bodies. Plenty of healthy people can carry staph without being infected. However staph can be a problem if it manages to get into the body, often through a cut. Staph is one of the most common causes of skin infections in the United States. MSRA is harder to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus (staph infections) because it's resistant to commonly used antibiotics.

What are the symptoms of MSRA?

Early Stages of MSRA
The symptoms of M.S.R.A. depend on where you're infected. Most often, it causes mild infections on the skin creating pimples or boils. M.S.R.A. can cause serious skin infections, infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs, or the urinary tract. Signs and symptoms may include:
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Warm to the touch
  • Full of pus or other drainage
  • May be accompanied by a fever

MSRA Abscess On Shoulder

Symptoms of a more serious staph infection may include:
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • General ill feeling (malaise)
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Rash
  • Shortness of breath

What To Do If You Suspect an MSRA Infection

If you or someone in your family experiences these signs and symptoms, cover the area with a bandage and contact your healthcare professional. It is especially important to contact your healthcare professional if signs and symptoms of an M.S.R.A. skin infection are accompanied by a fever.

How is MSRA spread?

There are two major ways people become infected with MRSA:
  • The first is physical contact with someone who is either infected or is a carrier (people who are not infected but are colonized with the bacteria on their body) of MRSA.
  • The second way is for people to physically contact MRSA on any objects such as door handles, floors, sinks, or towels that have been touched by an MRSA-infected person or carrier. Normal skin tissue in people usually does not allow MRSA infection to develop; however, if there are cuts, abrasions, or other skin flaws such as psoriasis (a chronic skin disease with dry patches, redness, and scaly skin), MRSA may proliferate. Many otherwise healthy individuals, especially children and young adults, do not notice small skin imperfections or scrapes and may be lax in taking precautions about skin contacts. This is the likely reason MRSA outbreaks occur in diverse types of people such as school team players (like football players or wrestlers), dormitory residents, and armed-services personnel in constant close contact.

Who Is Most At Risk?

Most MRSA infections occur in people who have been in hospitals or other health care settings, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers. When it occurs in these settings, it's known as health care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA). HA-MRSA infections typically are associated with invasive procedures or devices, such as surgeries, intravenous tubing or artificial joints.

Another type of MRSA infection has occurred in the wider community — among healthy people. This form, community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), often begins as a painful skin boil. It's spread by skin-to-skin contact. At-risk populations include groups such as high school wrestlers, child care workers and people who live in crowded conditions.

Studies have shown rates of CA-M.S.R.A. are growing fast. They have been identified among certain populations sharing close quarters or experience close skin-to-skin contact. Examples are team athletes, military recruits, and prisoners.

MSRA Prevention

To prevent getting and spreading MSRA, here are some steps to follow:
  • Wash your hands - Although people know they should do this, they may not wash well enough to kill bacteria. Use warm water, wash the front and back and between fingers, for at least 30 seconds. Wash before eating and after using the toilet.
  • Keep cuts clean and covered while they heal - Bacteria can enter a wound and mutate into MSRA Chances are reduced if the wound is covered.
  • Do not share personal care items such as tweezers and razors - Bacteria can easily be transferred from one person to the other.
  • Wipe exercise equipment before and after you use it - MSRA grows easily in warm moist areas such as on exercise equipment that people sweat on.
  • Wear gloves at a hospital or nursing home when visiting a person who has MSRA - The patient's room will have a sign on their door which states they are in contact isolation. Visitors and staff should wear gloves and gowns that are provided as you enter.
  • Be attentive to your care if you are a patient in a hospital - MSRA is spread in a health care setting easily. Ask staff to wash their hands. Inquire on admission how often bedding and bathrooms are cleaned.

Where Can I Find More Information?

For more information regarding MSRA please visit the Centers for Disease Control MSRA web page.