How Does MRSA Spread?

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Colonization

MRSA, or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a common bacterium that is carried harmlessly in the nose, throat, and on the skin of about one-third of the population. Staphylococcus aureus infections became easily treatable with the invention and widespread availability of antibiotics, but over time this bacterium has developed a strong resistance to antibiotics. Most people who come into contact with MRSA do not become unwell, as the bacterium simply colonizes on the skin. In some cases, however, MRSA enters the bloodstream through an open skin wound, resulting in a condition called bacteremia, or blood poisoning.

Direct Skin Contact

The primary means by which MRSA spreads is through direct skin contact with an infected person. Healthcare workers are especially prone to catching MRSA in this manner. Proper hygiene, including thorough hand washing and the use of alcohol or other sanitary gels generally minimizes or eliminates the risk of MRSA spreading through direct contact. Gloves should be worn at all times by anyone coming into contact with someone who has a MRSA infection, including doctors, nurses, and close family members.

Weakened Immune System

Healthy individuals rarely catch MRSA, but those with weakened immune systems are at high risk. Babies, young children, and the elderly are also at heightened risk of becoming sick by MRSA infection. Open skin wounds provide an easy method of infection, and anyone with ulcers, eczema, psoriasis, or ongoing skin infections should take special precautions when coming into contact with anyone suffering from a MRSA infection.

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