What is MRSA? How dangerous is it?

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MRSA - methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus; resistant to pencillin/cephalosporin based antibiotics, as opposed to MSSA (methicillin-sensitive staph aureus) which is sensitive to those type of antibiotics

Treatment for MRSA typically includes vancomycin if needing an intravenous antibiotic. If only needing an oral antibiotic, sulfa drugs (and sometimes clindamycin) are typically the first ones used.

The seriousness of an MRSA infection depends on the location and severity. For example, a mild MRSA cellulitis (a type of skin infection) or skin abscess, may be easily treated with a short course of sulfa drugs. On the other hand, MRSA septicemia (bacteria in the bloodstream) can be life threatening and would require intravenous vancomycin.

What it means for your situation depends on the specific circumstances, including type and severity of MRSA infection. I hope the information provided above helps you out. If you have further questions about this, please feel free to contact me directly (see my profile for details).

Best wishes,
Vik Rajan, M.D.

The health information provided above is FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE MEDICAL ADVICE/OPINION, is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or disease, and is not a substitute for the medical evaluation and advice of your (or your loved one’s) primary care physician or other medical professional. No doctor-patient relationship is established with this interaction. While striving to be factual and exact, no warranties are made with regards to the accuracy of the information provided above. You are always advised to talk with your (or your loved one’s) doctor about any health concerns that you have and about any of the information provided here. Sole reliance on the information provided above is not advised and would be solely at your own risk and liability.
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I work as a hairdresser. So I am in contact with many people. I have an auto immune disease and I am allergic to sulfa antibiotics. I am concerned that I may contract MRSA through contact. How is is contracted or how contagious can it be?
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I have had MRSA out breaks. It is very contagious. My doctor told me to take a bath in clorox water once a week to take the bacteria off my skin. I was to keep the outbreak covered at all times and when i had to redress bandages, I had to wear gloves or wash my hands. When I showered or bathed i had to clorox the tub afterward and my towels and sheets could not be washed with others. Some people are carriers and some people are not, they just get infected from someone else. You can get it by simple things such as skin to skin contact or sitting on a toilet seat or someone with MRSA sneezing on you. It colonizes in the nose. With you being a hair dresser you shouldnt have too much to worry about unless they are a carrier or are infected and they have a cut on their head.
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My g-kids have had MRSA outbreaks from hanging around their Dad's house, but it doesn't spread beyond the two boys. G-daughter, daughter and son-in-law have never gotten it. Careful sanitary measures and sulfa drugs have taken care of it. Of course, she is very proactive with any skin infection they get. She's a nurse at an inpatient drug treatment facility and several new intakes have had it also. Once again, with proper drugs and hygienic and cleaning procedures, it has not spread to any other clients or staff. I tutor kids in their own homes and have had two students with it, one in the rear crack and the other in her armpit. I didn't get it either, even though I worked with them side by side at their kitchen table. The ones with MRSA were always scheduled last for the day. I used hand sanitizer in my car after every student and showered and washed my clothes as soon as I got home. A local high school football team had an outbreak until the coach started doing the laundry himself-bleached the towels, uniforms, socks, cups. He would have the players wipe down their equipment everyday with bleach wipes. Within a couple of weeks, problem solved.

This is a very serious infection, sometimes a killer, but it is controllable with sulfa drugs, good hygiene and diligent cleaning. Any small pus-filled pimple that rapidly grows larger should be examined by a physician. ERs in our area routinely do a nose swab to each and every patient to find the hidden reservoirs of MRSA. If they don't do so in your area, urge them to do so. This sometimes deadly, once hospital-only infection is spreading out in your community right now.
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