What Do I Need to Know about MRSA?
You've probably heard a lot about a type of staph infection -- officially known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) -- that is resistant to a class of common antibiotics that includes methicillin and penicillin. The most harmful strain of MRSA can strike hospitalized patients and can overwhelm the immune system of already-sick patients. There are only a few antibiotics that can treat more serious MRSA infections such as these. MRSA that occurs outside of healthcare facilities, known as community-acquired MRSA, is occurring more often. It usually isn't life-threatening, though it can cause unpleasant skin infections, such as boils and abscesses. MRSA that spreads through communities through skin-to-skin contact with open wounds can be treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics even though the narrow-spectrum ones don't work. Still, prevention is key: the best defense against these superbugs is good hand washing and hygiene, which includes promptly cleansing and bandaging cuts and scrapes.