Most people have heard of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) but might not know exactly what it is. It is bacteria that are resistant to most penicillin treatments and to methicillin.
The antibiotic, methicillin isn’t used anymore, so after it was no longer manufactured, MRSA included bacterium resistance to penicillin. The bacteria can be found on most people’s skin and can be colonized (present but not causing MRSA Symptoms) in nostrils.
It can become a problem when there is a break in the skin and MRSA begins to grow. People who have weakened immune systems are at higher risk of getting this infection and having it spread to other parts of the body. Many people who are exposed never get an infection.
Hospital Acquired (HA-MRSA)
HA-MRSA is when a person becomes infected with this infection in a hospital or other health care facility. Contributing factors to this:
- Patients in a hospital are already in a weakened condition because of the illness or injury that caused them to be in a health care facility in the first place, which makes them more susceptible.
- There is a high population of people in a health care facility.
- Health care providers have direct contact with many different patients throughout their shifts.
- The antibacterial use and antibiotics that are given create an environment for the highly adaptable bacteria to mutate to a resistant strain.
There was a time when there was only hospital acquired MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). That is no longer the case. Many people get it in the community.
Community Acquired (CA-MRSA)
CA-MRSA is when a person becomes infected with it in day care, at the gym, in prison, on a playing field, or other highly populated place in the community. Contributing factors to this:
- Shared equipment like at a gym or military base
- Common areas that are used by a large population like at a prison
- Shared toys and play equipment like at a day care
- Contact with shared surfaces like on a football field
There are more Antibiotics for MRSA available to treat community acquired compared to the available antibiotics to treat hospital acquired.
Development of MRSA
The bacteria are highly adaptable and mutate to survive. MRSA developed originally from wide use of antibiotics for short durations. The antibiotics killed the weak bacteria and the strong survived to multiply. Eventually, antibiotics were prescribed for longer periods of time and only used for bacterial infections and not for viral infections. Antibiotics have no affect on viral infections that naturally ran their course with or without treatment.
MRSA continues to be a problem. Some believe that the widespread use of antibacterial products in the home may contribute to the continuing growth. Low dose antibiotic products (antibacterial ointment, cleaners, soap, etc.) kill the weaker bacteria and prompt the remaining strong bacteria to mutate to survive. There are some schools of thought that feel being exposed to small amounts of the bacteria through normal daily routines help to build up immunities to MRSA. The belief that exposure builds immunities is the reason there are vaccinations.
Staying healthy and using precautions in hospitals and in the community to avoid infection is the best way to prevent being infected with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).