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MRSA Infection (cont.)

How Common Is MRSA?

Less than 2% of the U.S. population is colonized with MRSA, and these people are called MRSA carriers. The proportion of health care-associated Staphylococcal infections that are due to MRSA (known as hospital-associated MRSA or HA-MRSA) rapidly increased from 2% in intensive care units in 1974 to 64% in 2004. Approximately 126,000 hospitalizations are due to MRSA yearly. Recent data suggest that MRSA causes a large percentage of all skin and soft-tissue infections. Invasive (serious) MRSA infections occur in approximately 94,000 people each year and are associated with approximately 19,000 deaths, reportedly more deaths than HIV per year. Of these MRSA infections that cause death, about 86% are HA-MRSA and 14% are CA-MRSA (also termed community-acquired MRSA because these MRSA infections are acquired outside health care settings). The CDC has recently reported a decline in reported MRSA infections; HA-MRSA has dropped by about 28% and CA-MRSA had dropped %17. These drops may be due to increased public awareness and utilization of methods to avoid transmitting these bacteria to other people.

What Causes a MRSA Infection?

MRSA bacteria can be transmitted by direct (though skin and body fluids) and indirect contact (from towels, diapers, and toys) to uninfected people. Also, some individuals have MRSA on their body (on their skin or in their nose or throat) but show no symptoms of infection; these people are termed MRSA carriers (see above) and can transmit MRSA to others. Statistics show that CA-MRSA is the predominant MRSA type found in the population. Most carriers are best detected by culturing MRSA from nasal swabs.

Is MRSA Contagious?

MRSA is contagious both directly (by person-to-person contact) and indirectly (when a contaminated person touches objects such as towels, toys or other surfaces and leaves MRSA bacteria that can be transferred to uninfected individuals). Some MRSA bacteria may survive for weeks on surfaces like doorknobs, towels, furniture, and many other items. Although MRSA bacteria can be included in secretion droplets put forth by infected individuals, direct contact is the usual way MRSA bacteria spread (are transmitted) to others. The incubation period for MRSA varies from about one to 10 days; the contagious period may include the incubation period and the time it takes to eliminate an individual's MRSA infection. Some individuals that are carriers of MRSA bacteria may be weakly contagious (meaning it is possible, but far less likely to transmit MRSA to others than people with active infection) as long as they carry the bacteria.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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Staphylococcal Infections »

Staphylococcal infections are usually caused by the organism Staphylococcus aureus.

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