Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

MRSAMethicillin-resistant S. Aureus (MRSA or ´mersa') are staph bacteria commonly found on the skin and in the nose of healthy people. MRSA can cause minor skin infections that can be treated by a healthcare provider without antibiotics. If not treated properly, MRSA can cause more serious infections such as pneumonia and bloodstream infections.

´Staph´ bacteria (Staphylococcus aures or S. Aureus) are commonly found on the skin and in the nose of healthy people. It is the most common cause of skin infections. Most of these skin infections are minor (such as pimples and boils or abscesses) and can be treated by a healthcare provider without antibiotics (drugs used to kill bacteria). However, staph bacteria can also cause serious infections (such as surgical wound infections and bloodstream infections).

Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA or ´mersa´) is a staph that has developed resistance to a commonly used class antibiotics called ´beta-lactams´ (i.e. penicillins - methicillin, nafcillin, amoxicillin, oxacillin, among others). MRSA can cause minor skin infections and, if not treated properly, more serious infections such as pneumonia and bloodstream infections. MRSA infections are more difficult to treat, but usually respond to draining of wounds and/or antibiotics. Drainage of skin boils or abscesses should only be done by a healthcare provider.

How is MRSA Spread?

MRSA is usually spread through direct physical contact with an infected person, but may be spread through contact with contaminated objects or surfaces. It is not spread by coughing unless the infected person has MRSA pneumonia.

Control Activities in Alameda County

Preventing the spread of MRSA primarily depends on the habits of individuals and facilities. Alameda County Public Health provides education and recommendations for the public and many types of facilities, such as schools, prisons, and healthcare facilities, among others, on how to prevent and to manage persons with an MRSA infection.  Check Public Health's Communicable Disease Website for more information

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