by: Julie Stanton

description of the disease

MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a bacteria that causes infections in many different parts of the body. It's harder to treat than most strains of staph because it's resistant to some commonly used antibiotics.


Doctors diagnose MRSA by checking a tissue sample or nasal secretions for signs of drug-resistant bacteria. The sample is then sent to a lab where it's placed in a dish of nutrients that encourage bacterial growth. It takes about 48 hours for the bacteria to grow, so newer tests that can detect staph DNA in a matter of hours are being developed.

how the disease is transmitted

MRSA is spread by contact. You could get MRSA by touching another person who has it on their skin or you could get it by touching objects that have the bacteria on it.

relative frequency of the disease

Approximately 25-30% of healthy people carry this organism on their skin or in their nose.

disease course

MRSA usually runs a 7-10 day course with help from an antibiotic.

possible complications

Most often, it causes mild infections on the skin, like sores or boils. But it can also cause more serious skin infections or infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs, or the urinary tract.

target audience

common among people who have weak immune systems, in hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care centers. MRSA is also showing up in healthy people who have not been hospitalized. This type of MRSA is called community-associated MRSA.