MRSA (pronounced mer-sa) is short for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.
It's a potentially deadly strain of staph bacteria, resistant to many antibiotics, including methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin.
This antibiotic resistance is created when bacteria are over-exposed to antibiotics, and get stronger, more resistant, and become immune.
Some people carry MRSA on their skin or in their noses. Just because you carry it doesn't mean you will get sick. But it is contagious- A small scratch or an open wound can quickly become infected. So don’t pick at your skin! It is a protective barrier. Use moisturizing creams to prevent dry, cracked skin, and cover any cuts or abrasions with bandages until completely healed.
Most MRSA infections start off as pus-filled pimples or boils. In some cases, the pimple or boil only needs to be drained. But often, special antibiotics are needed to treat it. If antibiotics don't work and infection spreads—MRSA can lead to pneumonia, bone infections and life-threatening bloodstream infections.
MRSA infections are more likely in people with weakened immune systems, including those with HIV or anyone taking chemotherapy. They are more common in people who have been in a hospital or a nursing home. But infections are also popping up in otherwise healthy young people like athletes and military recruits, and in schools and other community settings.
The best way to ward off MRSA is to practice good hygiene:
Athletes: clean shared equipment routinely. Wash your hands and take a shower after practice.
Stay on alert: If you have a suspicious skin lesion, tell your doctor right away.