WHAT IS MRSA?

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is major drug-resistant bacteria and can lead to deadly infections. MRSA bacteria can easily be transmitted from one person to the other.

Not only that, about 5% of the population carry these bacteria without showing any symptoms of infections or without being conscious of it.

The major problem with MRSA is that most regular treatments do not work for it. This is because MRSA has become resistant or immune to most antibiotics.

MRSA disease has been called other names including Mercer, Mersa, and Merca. MRSA is caused by a particular strain of Staphylococcus bacteria, often referred to as “Staph”.

Types of MRSA and related infections

 There are many strains of MRSA and Staph aureus bacteria. Each strain causes infections in different ways and each one has a unique way of defending itself against antibiotic treatments.

Simply, the same antibiotic treatment may not work for two different strains of MRSA.

Some MRSA strains can lead to lethal infection, which can spread very fast. An example is the flesh-eating infections. MRSA infections are relatively easier to treat although the infections tend to recur in about 50% of the people.

Here are the most common types of MRSA and Staph:

  1. MSSA (Methicillin-Sensitive Staph Aureus): This Staph strain is relatively easy treat by any methicillin class of antibiotics. It is common and the infection can easily be detected by doing a bacterial culture test results.
  2. VRSA (Vancomycin-Resistant Staph Aureus): This is a rare strain of Staph has grown resistant to the “last resort” antibiotic treatment known as Vancomycin.
  3. VISA (Vancomycin-Intermediate Staph Aureus): This is quite similar to VRSA, except that it is not totally resistant to the Vancomycin.       
  4. ORSA (Oxacillin-Resistant Staph aureus): This is another name for MRSA but this strain is specifically resistant to Oxacillin. Oxacillin and Methicillin belong to the same group of antibiotics.
  5. CA-MRSA: These strains of MRSA are mostly found in community and public places. They cause skin infections but can easily be treated with antibiotics. Sadly, CA-MRSA often infects young and relatively healthy people. In certain cases, it can be even be lethal.
  6. HA-MRSA: These types of MRSA bacteria are found mostly in hospitals and other healthcare centers. Records show that MRSA started in hospitals. HA-MRSA can lead to internal infections if not quickly treated. Unfortunately, internal infections are more difficult to treat.
  7. LA-MRSA: These MRSA strains are found livestock and feed animals. You can also find them on livestock keepers. LA-MRSA is still undergoing further study. However, it has been found in food supply, especially in traditionally raised pork, beef and chicken.

MRSA is a dangerous bacterium that is capable of mutating from one strain to another. Because it is constantly changing, it makes it difficult get the appropriate treatment.

Finding the right antibiotic treatment is a major concern when dealing with MRSA infections. Most times, different antibiotics would have been tried before finding the right one for the strain of MRSA. Unfortunately, the antibiotics may not work.

Is MRSA the same as a Staph infection?

MRSA is a strain of Staph bacteria that is antibiotic-resistant, especially the penicillin related antibiotics and some other commonly used antibiotics.

There is an assumption that MRSA is a viral infection but this is wrong because MRSA is essentially a bacterial infection.

MRSA and Staph are similar in so many ways but they are also quite different, especially because MRSA can be more lethal that Staph.

How did MRSA get started?

Medical Practitioners have been using antibiotics to stop the spread of bacteria sin the 1940s. However, the more people use or abuse antibiotics, the faster it is for the bacteria to develop immunity against them.

Different kinds of bacteria are becoming more resistant to antibiotics every single year.

Now that MRSA has grown quite resistant to most antibiotics, treating skin infections and other internal infections are now much more challenging. In certain cases, death is even imminent.

According to research, many people die yearly from these antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections than from the AIDS virus. MRSA is also the major cause of the “flesh-eating” disease.

Since MRSA keeps changing form, the CDC has concluded that antibiotics would eventually stop being a reliable option for treating it. MRSA illness is now more resistant to the following antibiotics:

  • The Penicillin Antibiotics Family including Methicillin, Oxacillin, Penicillin, and Amoxicillin
  • Cephalosporins – Another class of Penicillin-like antibiotics
  • Vancomycin – VISA and VRSA strains are now more resistant to Vancomycin, which is one of the top ‘last resort’ antibiotics. Vancomycin has conventionally been used to treat severe to life-threatening infections that cannot be treated by common antibiotics.

How do you know if you are infected?

 The best way to know for certain whether you have a MRSA infection is to you’re your doctor run a culture test. This will help to identify the bacteria causing your infections.

It’s possible to have Staph infection and not have MRSA. Both can be lethal and they can be treated in similar ways.

If you have been diagnosed with an infection, you need to find the appropriate treatment to deal with the infection and prevent reoccurrence and also prevent spreading the infection to others.

A Growing Health Concern

Both MRSA and Staph infections have grown to become a serious danger in the society. Unfortunately, things are only getting worse. It can lead to either hospital acquired (HA-MRSA) and community acquired (CA-MRSA) infections.

MRSA Statistics

  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report in 2005 shows that MRSA caused an estimated 94,000 life-threatening infections and close to 19,000 deaths more, which is more than what was caused by AIDS.
  • In 2003, there was an estimate of 12 million doctor or emergency room visits in the US, specifically for skin and soft tissue infections, both of which were allegedly caused by Staph aureus.
  • Between 2003 and 2004, hospitals in England recorded about 548% increase in MRSA related deaths.

Healthcare Associated MRSA

HA-MRSA, also called Hospital Acquired MRSA, is usually contracted from a hospital visit or stay. Most cases recorded were from hospital or healthcare centers including nursing homes and dialysis centers, until recently.

For instance, patients with open wounds, invasive devices like catheters or IV’s, and low immune systems have a higher chance of being infected than the general public. Sadly, HA-MRSA is still a major issue for those being hospitalization.

Hospital Statistics

 The Staph aureus bacteria now cause approximately 20% of bloodstream infections in hospitals.

  1. In 2003, MRSA infections were about 64.4% of the total hospital onset bacterial infections in intensive care units.
  2. Over the years, the forms of post-operative hospital infections changed from normal wound infections in the 1960’s to urinary tract infections in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
  3. Presently, about 43% of post-operative hospital infections are pneumonia! This significantly increases the chance of dying for patients.

However, if hospital staff fails to use the appropriate sanitary procedures, they increase the chances of transferring the bacteria from one patient to the other.

Thankfully, certain hospitals now screen for MRSA and then they quarantine such patients. Unfortunately, most US hospitals are yet to integrate this into their procedures.

Therefore, it is important that you learn to protect yourself and your family if you are visiting a hospital or other healthcare center soon, either as a patient or a visitor.

Community Associated MRSA

As mentioned earlier, hospitals were the major breeding ground and contact areas for MRSA. Unfortunately, this is fast changing because CA-MRSA is now becoming a major source of risk.

CA-MRSA infections can even happen to healthy people who have not stayed in hospitals within a year. People who haven’t had any major medical procedure done within a year can also be affected.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) claims that community MRSA is now a major cause of skin and soft tissue infections that show up in emergency institutions in the United States.

CA-MRSA infections include skin infections, such as burns, abscesses, boils, and other pus-filled lesions.