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MRSA Infection (cont.)

MRSA Infection Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms of MRSA infections are variable; however, pus production is often found in the infected area. Classic examples of pus-containing areas in patients are boils (pus in hair follicles), abscesses (collections of pus), carbuncles (large abscesses with pus draining), sty (pus in an eyelid gland), and impetigo (pus in blisters on the skin). Cellulitis (infection under the skin or fatty tissue) usually does not have pus but begins with small red bumps on the skin, sometimes with itching, and also may be due to MRSA. Children and adults have many of the same symptoms. Groups such as family members, close friends, children in a day care center, or members of an athletic team may develop these symptoms within a short time span. The symptoms mentioned above are most often found in CA-MRSA but can also be found in HA-MRSA. When any antibiotic therapy fails, CA- and HA-MRSA should be considered as a potential cause of infection.

Picture of a MRSA infection on the leg
Figure 1: Picture of a MRSA infection on the leg. SOURCE: CDC

HA-MRSA infections are usually suspected when the hospitalized patient develops signs of sepsis (fever, chills, low blood pressure, weakness, and mental deterioration), even if the patient is being treated with an antibiotic. CA-MRSA patients who develop sepsis or pneumonia (lung infection) need immediate hospitalization. However, hospitalized patients do not need to have a primary site of MRSA infection, only a site where MRSA can invade (invasive or serious MRSA) and proliferate (for example, any surgical site, IV site, or site of an implanted device). Consequently, symptoms of pus production or signs of sepsis in any hospitalized patient, especially those with immune compromise (for example, HIV, cancer, or the elderly) could be due to MRSA.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/5/2014

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