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Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

S. aureus, sometimes called “staph”, is a common bacterium in the environment and on peoples’ skin. When the staph bacteria get into a person’s body, such as through a cut, they can cause infections. Most staph infections are not serious, but sometimes that can become very serious and require hospitalization. MRSA is a kind of staph that is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin, and other antibiotics in the same class as methicillin. This makes it harder to treat infections caused by these bacteria, but there are other antibiotics that are still effective against MRSA.

Generally, people who are healthy are not at high risk for MRSA infections. MRSA is most common in the healthcare environment, so most cases are among people who are already sick in the hospital. People who have weakened immune systems are at higher risk of infection. MRSA can be found in the community like normal staph, but this is less common. MRSA is sometimes seen in groups of people with frequent skin-to-skin contact, such as people on sports teams, or children in schools.

MRSA is transmitted by direct contact, which means you touch someone’s infected skin or a body fluid containing the bacteria, and it is transferred to your skin. MRSA can also be transmitted by items or surfaces that have become contaminated, such as a used bandage.

The best way to protect yourself from MRSA is by washing your hands regularly, or using hand sanitizer. It is also a good idea to shower after participating in sports or exercise. If you have a cut or scrape, clean it out promptly and keep it covered with a clean, dry bandage until it has healed.

MRSA is only reportable if there is a cluster of cases or an outbreak. Single cases of MRSA do not need to be reported. Vancomycin-resistant S. aureus (VRSA) is reportable. Additional testing is available through the Antibiotic Resistance Lab Network for suspected VRSA or other unusual resistance phenotypes: contact the HAI Program at 269-8000 to discuss.

A factsheet about MRSA in Alaska is available: PDFMRSA fact sheet 5.17.pdf

Resources for Providers:

The CDC has many resources for both patients and providers.

Resources for the Public:

Data and Publications regarding MRSA in Alaska:

Articles about MRSA in Alaska: