Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), commonly referred to as "mercer" or "staph", is a serious staphylococcus infection. Staphylococcus aureus is found in the nose and on the skin of most people. Normally, in healthy individuals staphylococcus poses no threat. There are over 30 different strains of staphylococcus. MRSA is a strain of staphylococcus. It is a bacterial infection that is resistant to most antibiotics. Elderly and immune suppressed individuals are its most susceptible candidates.
MRSA mimics the exact symptoms as any other type of Staphylococcus. Symptoms include rash, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, erythroderma (flaking of the skin) and general muscle aches and pains.
On December 2, 2007 the FDA approved the StaphSR, which can microscopically detect MRSA through a blood sample within 2 hours. Additional testing can include biopsy of the affected area, a swabbed sample of the infected skin area or a urinalysis test.
Methicillin has been known to treat MRSA successfully. In rare cases, some bacteria has built a tolerance to metchicillin; thus the antibiotic can no longer fight against the infection.
MRSA is contagious, but otherwise-healthy individuals are at low risk in contacting the infection from an infected individual. Use precaution in handling bodily fluids of an infected individual. Elderly individuals should avoid contact with a person who is infected.
Depending on the overall health of the infected person, antibiotic therapy may be successful. Individuals who are infected with MRSA and have a low immune system, such as HIV are at a greater risk for complications or fatality.
According the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), taking the following precautions may prevent the spread and bacteria growth of staphylococcus: "Practice good hygiene. Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed. Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors."