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Understanding MRSA Risks
MRSA is short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
. It is a strain of bacteria resistant to certain types of antibiotics. It is a less common, but potentially more serious, form of the common "staph" infection.
Until recently, MRSA was more likely to be a hospital-acquired infection. MRSA infections that are first acquired in the hospitals and healthcare facilities are known as healthcare-associated MRSA.
New strains, however, have recently emerged in the community that are capable of causing severe infections in otherwise healthy individuals. These MRSA infections are known as community-associated MRSA.
The risk factors associated with each type of MRSA differ.
Community-Associated MRSA Risk Factors
Many people who live in the community and develop MRSA infections do not have any risk factors. However, there appear to be several factors that can increase a person's chances for developing community-associated MRSA. Some of these risk factors include:
- Trauma to the skin (such as cuts, sores, or "turf burns")
- Participating in contact sports (particularly wrestlers, gymnasts, and those who play lineman or linebacker in football)
- Being overweight or obese (see BMI Calculator for your ideal weight)
- Shaving body hair
- Physical contact with a person who has a draining cut or sore, or who is a carrier of MRSA
- Sharing towels, uniforms, razors, or other personal items or equipment that is not washed between users
- Living in crowded or unsanitary places, such as prisons, military barracks, or homeless shelters.
Community-associated MRSA infections may also occur more often in certain populations, such as military recruits, men who have sex with other men, and IV drug users.