MRSA is a highly-contagious bacterial infection which can show up in any part of the body, including in and around the vagina. Symptoms of infection are similar to infections in other parts of the body; treatment with a strong antibiotic, completion of the prescription and good hygiene practices can help women avoid subsequent infections.
Staphylococcus Aureus and MRSA
MRSA is staphylococcus aureus bacteria which has become resistant to treatment by methicillin (Methicillin-Resistant staphylococcus aureus). This bacteria has attained super-bug status because of overuse of antibiotics and not taking the full course of medication, which causes the bacteria to mutate and develop resistance to several strong antibiotics. These include vancomycin and non-penicillin antibiotics such as doxycycline.
Vaginal MRSA presents with small pimples or boils in the vaginal area, legs and buttocks of the patient; pain at the site of infection and fever; the infected site is red, warm to the touch; the boils may be filled with pus. If the infection goes undiagnosed and untreated, she runs the risk of the infection getting into her bloodstream and/or her lungs. If this happens, she will become seriously ill (her infection could become MRSA-related pneumonia), and if she does not go to the hospital, she could die.
The patient with vaginal MRSA will notice strange pimples or boils in and around her vaginal area; these sores could also be present in other areas close to her vagina. If she receives a diagnosis and treatment right away her infection will heal. However, if she continues to have intercourse with the partner who infected her, she will develop the infection again. When she makes the connection between her sexual partner and her repeated infections, she needs to refrain from intercourse with this person and avoid using his/her towels and other items of personal hygiene.
The only way a doctor can diagnose MRSA is to swab the infected area. Once the swab has been tested, antibiotic treatment will be prescribed and begun if it is MRSA. It is very important for the woman to take her full course of antibiotics until she finishes the medication; even if she “feels better” and believes she has gotten over the infection, some bacteria are still present and alive in her body. If she does not take the full course of medication, these bacteria will be able to mutate, thus developing a resistance to the antibiotic she was prescribed.
Modes of Transmission
Once a woman notices she has symptoms of an infection (regardless of which symptoms alerts her to her illness), she should visit her doctor and have the site tested to diagnose or rule out MRSA infection. Avoiding intercourse with an infected partner, regularly washing towels and other personal items and washing with antibacterial soap are good ways to prevent infection.