What Is the MRSA Virus?


Quick Answer

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, is a contagious bacterium that is immune to beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillin and ampicillin, according to Healthline. MRSA lives on skin and is often found within the nose of an infected individual. It spreads through contact with an infected person or by touching an object or surface that has been contaminated. There are two classifications of MRSA: HA-MRSA and CA-MRSA.

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Full Answer

CA-MRSA, also known as community-acquired MRSA, usually starts as a skin infection that produces early symptoms such as cellulitis, abscess and pus discharge, according to MedicineNet. CA-MRSA can usually be treated with oral antibiotics, but more severe cases require hospital admission and the use of IV antibiotics.

MedicineNet states that HA-MRSA is known as hospital-acquired MRSA, meaning these infections occur within a hospital setting. Patients with HA-MRSA may have had surgery, and an infection begins at the site of the procedure or where an IV or catheter is placed. This form of MRSA can be more difficult to treat, as many strains of the bacterium are resistant to most antibiotics, as of 2014. A patient usually receives IV antibiotics, such as vancomycin, in order to treat the infection.

Approximately one fourth of the population are carriers of MRSA, states Healthline, although many of these people do not become ill. Approximately 2 percent of MRSA carriers have the strain that is resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics.

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