Staph infection, also known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection, is an infection with a strain of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that is resistant to common antibiotics like methicillin as well as others like amoxicillin and penicillin. The infection is usually acquired in hospitals and healthcare facilitities, but can also be acquired by anyone in the general community.
Staphylococcus aureus, often called "staph", are common bacteria that normally live harmlessly on the skin and sometimes the nasal passages. An infection can develop when staph bacteria enter the skin through a cut or sore, or when the bacteria move inside the body through a catheter or breathing tube.
The infection can be minor and easily treated or more serious, causing infections of the bloodstream, surgical sites, or pneumonia, so it's important to contact your health care provider as soon as symptoms develop.
Roughly 30 percent of the U.S. population has staph bacteria living harmlessly in their nasal passages.
Anyone can get a staph infection, but usually it occurs in people with weak immune systems such as patients in hospitals and long-term care facitilities. Staph infections that occur in these types of patients are known as healthcare-associated. Staph infections that occur in people who have not been hospitalized in the last year are known as community-associated. Because healthcare-associated and community-associated strains of staph infection occur in different settings, the risk factors for each differ.
Risk factors for healthcare-associated staph infection include:
A current or recent hospitalization
Residing in a long-term care facility
Recent antibiotic use
Being on dialysis, catheterization, or having a feeding tube
Risk factors for community-associated staph infection include:
Skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a staph infection
Contact with items or surfaces that have staph on them (sharing towels or athletic equipment)
Having openings on the skin such as cuts and scrapes