West Virginia Department of Health and Human
Information for the Public -
Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

What is Staphylococcus aureus?

Staphylococcus aureus, or Astaph@ is a bacteria that lives on the skin or
in the nose of healthy people. Occasionally, staph can cause infections
of the skin, bloodstream, lungs, bones, joints, heart, or almost any part
of the body. What is methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)?
MRSA (pronounced `mursa´) is a type of staph that has become resistant to
some common antibiotics. This means that an infection with MRSA is more
difficult to treat. Where are staph and MRSA found? Staph and MRSA may be
found on the skin or in the nose. About 30 to 50% of people may carry the
staph bacteria on their skin without getting ill. How common is MRSA? In
many communities, including some in West Virginia, MRSA is now the most
common cause of skin infections due to `staph.´ According to some
studies, 1 to 10% of people now carry MRSA in their nose or on their skin.
Who is most at risk for staph infections? While anyone can get an
infection with staph, certain persons are more at risk. These people
include diabetics, people on dialysis, persons who use injection drugs,
people who have recently had surgery, and persons with chronic diseases
such as cancer. Staph infections are also more common in persons who have
a tube going into their body (such as a urinary catheter or intravenous
(IV) catheter). MRSA infections are more likely in persons who have
recently received antibiotics or recently been in a hospital or nursing
home. In the last few years, MRSA infections have also been identified in
persons outside of hospitals. Cases of MRSA disease in the community are
associated with recent antibiotic use, sharing contaminated items, active
skin disease, and living in crowded settings. Outbreaks have occurred on
sports teams, in jails or military units, camps and even hospital wards.
Community associated MRSA infections are usually skin infections; however,
severe illness can also occur.

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health, September, 2007.

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