Bacteria Home > Complications of MRSA

MRSA does not only affect the skin; it can also affect tissues inside the body. These are more serious infections, with up to 20 percent of cases resulting in death. Some of the most common MRSA complications that affect the inside structures of the body can include pneumonia, bacteremia or septicemia, cellulitis, osteomyelitis, and endocarditis. These types of complications occur most often within a healthcare setting.

Understanding MRSA Complications

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA for short) is a strain of bacteria resistant to certain types of antibiotics. It used to be that MRSA was primarily seen in hospitals and healthcare settings, such as nursing homes. It is now becoming more common in the community (known as community-associated MRSA infection).
In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections that may appear as pustules or boils, and are often red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. These skin infections commonly occur at sites of visible skin trauma (such as cuts and abrasions) and areas of the body covered by hair (such as the back of the neck, groin, buttocks, armpits, and beard area of men).
MRSA can also affect tissues inside the body. These are more serious infections. Some of these may occur as a complication of a MRSA skin infection. In most cases, though, they are not.

What's the Risk of a MRSA Complication and What's Its Impact?

It is fairly uncommon that, within the community, a complication of a MRSA skin infection develops. These complications are more common within the healthcare setting, although they are still more the exception than the rule.
Up to 31 out of every 100,000 people with a MRSA infection will have it affect internal structures.
Serious (or even life-threatening) complications are more common with these types of infections. Serious MRSA infections can have death rates of up to 20 percent (the average death rate from a MRSA infection is less than 1 in 17,000 people).
There are certain risk factors that increase a person's chances for developing a more serious type of MRSA infection (see Who Is at Risk for Getting MRSA?).
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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