MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) Infection
Who Is at Risk?Anyone can be at risk for community-associated MRSA. However, these infections do appear to occur more often in certain settings, such as schools, dormitories, military barracks, households, correctional facilities, and daycare centers.
These settings have factors that make it easier for MRSA to be transmitted, including:
- Frequent skin-to-skin contact
- Compromised skin (i.e., cuts or abrasions)
- Contaminated items and surfaces
- Lack of cleanliness.
There are several factors that increase a person's chances of healthcare-associated MRSA. Some of these factors include:
- A history of multiple hospitalizations
- A recent hospitalization for a long period of time
- Recent antibiotic use
- Recent surgery
- Having an IV line or bladder catheter
- Having a weakened immune system from a medical condition (such as those with HIV or AIDS) or its treatment
- Living in a nursing home or another long-term residence situation
- Having dialysis for kidney failure.
(You can learn more about how MRSA is spread by clicking on MRSA Transmission. You can also learn who is at risk for MRSA by reading Who Is at Risk for Getting MRSA?)
How Is a MRSA Infection Transmitted?MRSA transmission occurs between individuals through direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with shared items or surfaces that have come into contact with someone else's infection (such as towels or used bandages).
Not everyone who has MRSA will actually develop an infection. This is known as colonization. "Colonization" means that a person is carrying a specific type of bacteria, but does not have any signs or symptoms of illness that this particular bacteria type can cause. A person colonized with MRSA may also be called a MRSA "carrier."
It is estimated that up to 7 percent of people in hospitals and up to 2 percent of people in the community are colonized with MRSA, either on the skin or within their nose (the two most common areas). Although they do not have any signs or symptoms of MRSA, they can still infect others.
(See MRSA Transmission to learn more about how MRSA is spread and about colonization.)