MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) Infection

Incubation Period

After a person has become infected with MRSA, it takes about 1 to 10 days on average for symptoms to appear. This period between MRSA transmission and the beginning of MRSA symptoms is called the "MRSA incubation period."

MRSA Signs and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of a MRSA infection can include a single red bump that resembles a pimple, pustule, or boil. It may also look like a cluster of red bumps. The involved site may also be red, swollen, warm, painful, and have pus or other drainage. MRSA is often confused with a spider bite in appearance.
MRSA 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, or beard area of men).
Community-associated MRSA can be particularly dangerous in children because their immune systems are not fully developed.
MRSA can cause more serious infections. Some of the most common areas that MRSA affects (and the types of infections caused) include the:
  • Lungs (pneumonia)
  • Bloodstream (bacteremia or septicemia)
  • Soft tissue (cellulitis)
  • Bone (osteomyelitis)
  • Inner lining of the heart (endocarditis).
These internal infections can cause serious and even life-threatening complications (see Complications of MRSA).

How Is It Diagnosed?

To diagnose MRSA, a sample is taken from the infection and sent to a lab for testing. If S. aureus (staph) is found, the organism will be further tested to determine which antibiotic is the most effective treatment.
There are newer tests that are becoming more widely available that can detect staph DNA in a matter of hours.
(Click Diagnosing MRSA to learn more.)

MRSA Staph Infection

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