by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(MRSA; Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infection; Infection, Methicillin-Resistant; Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Community-Acquired MRSA; CA-MRSA; Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Nosocomial MRSA; Healthcare-Associated MRSA; HA-MRSA)


Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA) is a type of bacteria. It causes infections that are hard to treat with normal antibiotics. It may happen inside or outside of a care center.


It is caused by a type of staph bacteria that cannot be treated by most antibiotics. It spreads through contact with infected people or items.

Risk Factors

The type that happens outside a care center is more common in young children, athletes, prisoners, and people in the military. Other risks are:

  • Time spent in crowded places, such as day cares, colleges, and locker rooms
  • Skin to skin contact, such as with sports like wrestling and football
  • Having broken skin or an open sore
  • Sharing personal items
  • Poor hygiene
  • Using IV drugs
  • Having a severe illness
  • Being around animals

The type that happens inside a care center is more common in men and older adults. Other risks are:

  • Time spent in a long-term care center or hospital
  • Having a lasting health problem
  • Being treated with an antibiotic for a long time
  • Having a wound
  • Being around a person with MRSA
  • Having medical devices in the body, such as a catheter


A person may have:

  • Skin that is swollen, red, and painful or warm to the touch
  • A sore that is leaking
  • Fever
Infected Hair Follicle—Folliculitis
Inflammed hair follicle
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The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

A person's nose or wound will be swabbed to test for bacteria.


The infection will need to be treated. This can be done with:

Draining the Abscess

The doctor may open the abscess to allow the fluid to drain. This may be all that needs to be done.


Antibiotics may be given to treat infection. Only a few can treat MRSA. The one that is chosen depends on the bacteria and location.


These steps can help lower the chances of infection:

  • Washing your hands and body with soap and water, especially after working out
  • Not sharing personal items
  • Keeping wounds clean and covered until they heal
  • Getting care at the first signs of any infection


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases 


Canadian Dermatology Association 

Public Health Agency of Canada 


Calfee DP, Salgado CD, et al. Strategies to Prevent Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Transmission and Infection in Acute Care Hospitals: 2014 Update. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2014 Jul;35(7):772-796.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated February 5, 2019. Accessed November 4, 2019.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated May 21, 2019. Accessed November 4, 2019.

MRSA. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: Updated October 2019. Accessed November 4, 2019.

6/4/2018 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance : Gualandi N, Mu Y, Bamberg WM, et al. Racial disparities in invasive methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infections, 2005-2014. Clin Infect Dis. 2018 Apr 5 [Epub ahead of print].

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