Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as MRSA, is a type of bacteria that can cause a serious infection. Staph bacteria are a common source of infections, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the main concern about MRSA is that its among a group of Multidrug-Resistant Organisms, which means the most common types of antibiotics prove ineffective in treating the infection 1. People should see their doctor if they have an infection and aren’t sure of its origin, especially if they have been hospitalized recently. MRSA can have some dangerous consequences, including serious skin or joint infections, pneumonia or inflammation of the heart, organ disruption and even death.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Skin, Joint and Bone Infections
An abscess, rash or draining cut or wound in the skin may be the first sign of a staph infection. Testing will determine if the infection is MRSA. A common skin infection that people with MRSA get is cellulitis, a painful inflammatory skin disease, notable for a red rash that can become swollen, tender and warm, according to MayoClinic.com 2.cause:
- A common skin infection that people with MRSA get is cellulitis
- a painful inflammatory skin disease
- notable for a red rash that can become swollen
- according to MayoClinic.com 2
Pneumonia or Endocarditis
Early Signs & Symptoms of MRSA
MRSA infections can get into the bloodstream. Once there, the bacteria could potentially affect many different organs, including the lungs and heart. If it reaches the lungs, it can result in pneumonia. It can also cause a type of inflammatory heart condition called endocarditis, which the Medline Plus Medical Dictionary says calls an “inflammation of the lining of the heart and its valves.”
- MRSA infections can get into the bloodstream.
- If it reaches the lungs, it can result in pneumonia.
Septic Shock or Toxic Shock
The Johns Hopkins hospital infectious diseases web page about MRSA notes that bacterial infections that invade the bloodstream may cause septic shock. The sudden onset of a fever and persistent low blood pressure can indicate septic shock, or toxic shock--a type of septic shock that could result from a MRSA, according to the online Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals 4. Both septic shock and toxic shock are critical conditions.
Early Signs & Symptoms of MRSA
Complications of Cellulitis
Complications of a Skin Abscess
Signs & Symptoms of Human Skin Mites
Long-Term Effects of Salmonella Poisoning
Infections That Cause Neck Pain
Side Effects of a Meningitis Vaccine
Amputation Due to Cellulitis
Signs & Symptoms of Eye MRSA
Causes of Fluid Filled Bumps on the Skin That Cause Itching
- Centers for Disease Control: Overview of Healthcare-associated MRSA
- MayoClinic.com: Cellulitis Symptoms
- Podiatry Today: Understanding The Impact Of MRSA On Limb Preservation
- Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals: Toxic Shock Syndrome
- General Information | MRSA. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Jun 26, 2019.
- What is sepsis? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aug 27, 2019.
- Pneumonia | Pneumonia Symptoms | Signs of Pneumonia. MedlinePlus. Aug 20, 2019.
- Zeller JL, Golub RM. MRSA Infections. Jama. 2011;306(16). doi:10.1001/jama.306.16.1818.
- Rodvold KA, Mcconeghy KW. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus therapy: past, present, and future. Clin Infect Dis. 2014;58 Suppl 1:S20-7. doi:10.1093/cid/cit614
- Sai N, Laurent C, Strale H, Denis O, Byl B. Efficacy of the decolonization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus carriers in clinical practice. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2015;4:56. doi:10.1186/s13756-015-0096-x
- Anderson DJ. (2019). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in adults: Epidemiology. Sexton DJ, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
- Harris A. (2019). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in adults: Prevention and control. Sexton DJ, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc.
- Huang SS et al. Decolonization to Reduce Postdischarge Infection Risk among MRSA Carrier. N Engl J Med. 2019 Feb 14;380(7):638-50. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1716771
- Miller LG, Kaplan SL. Staphylococcus aureus: a community pathogen. Infectious Disease Clinics of North America. 2009 Mar;23(1):35-52. doi:10.1016/j.idc.2008.10.002
- Septimus EJ, Schweizer ML. Decolonization in Prevention of Health Care-Associated Infections. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2016 Apr;29(2):201-22. doi:10.1128/CMR.00049-15
Marcia Veach attended Mt. Hood Community College and the University of Oregon and holds degrees in both physical therapy and journalism. She has been an active health care professional for over 30 years and a freelance writer for more than a dozen years. She has served as a writer and editor for business, nonprofit and health publications.