Some ways to avoid contracting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, are maintaining good personal hygiene, cleaning and covering wounds, and not sharing personal items such as razors, clothing or towels, advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seek prompt medical care for any wound that is red, swollen, warm, painful or draining pus, as these are often signs of an infection.
MRSA is a strain of the common bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus, that in healthy individuals often lives on the skin or in the mucus membranes of the nose, according to WebMD. Infections occur when the bacteria invades the body through a cut or wound or through devices such as intravenous catheters or feeding tubes in hospitalized patients. Most "staph" infections respond well to antibiotics, but infections caused by methicillin-resistant strains do not. Through years of repeated exposure to various antibiotics, these bacteria have evolved into "super-bugs" that many antibiotics can't kill. Although MRSA usually isn't life-threatening, it is difficult to treat and sometimes causes serious infections in the lungs, urinary tract or bloodstream.
Initially, MRSA was a hospital-acquired infection. However, the incidence of hospital-acquired MRSA decreased between 2011 and 2013, while the number of infections in people who had never been hospitalized rose, reports WebMD. Known as community-associated MRSA, this infection spreads through close contact and often affects prisoners, military personnel, college students living in dormitories and children who attend day care.