MRSA is the short form for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. These bacteria belong to the staphylococcus group of organisms. The reason behind naming it this way is because this bacterium has gained resistance to the antibiotic named methicillin that is a member of penicillin group of antibiotics and also too many other such antibiotics like amoxicillin, cephalosporins.
Earlier these bacteria were sensitive to penicillin but have gained resistance over a course of time because of unnecessary usage of these antibiotics. That is why it is now guided to use antibiotics wisely. When absolutely necessary, only then should the antibiotics be prescribed. Bacteria gaining resistance against commonly used drugs have become one of the major problems now days.
What Are The Most Common Causes Of MRSA?
There are two ways through which MRSA infection can occur. First is community acquired and second is healthcare acquired or hospital acquired. But out of these two types, the most common one is Hospital Acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA). The main reason behind HA-MRSA is not using proper hygiene techniques like hand washing, wearing gowns and masks while attending patients with MRSA, etc. if all these methods are followed properly the chances of HA-MRSA will also reduce significantly.
There are basically two types of MRSA infection:
- Community Acquired Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (CA-MRSA): it occurs in the patients who have not been hospitalized.
- Healthcare Associated Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (HA-MRSA): it is seen in patients who have been hospitalized and have weak immune system. HA-MRSA is the common cause of MRSA. (3)
Risk Factors For CA-MRSA
- Skin to skin contact between two individuals
- Abrasions or cuts or wounds on the skin
- Living in over crowded places for e.g. prison, military bases, etc.
- Lack of proper personal hygiene
- When there is contact with surfaces that are contaminated with MRSA bacteria
- Contact with animals (pigs, poultry, cattle)
- History of unnecessary use of antibiotics
- Illegal use of intravenous drugs
- Transmission through saliva is rare but may occur
- Transmission between male homosexuals through anal canal mucosa (1)
Risk Factors For HA-MRSA
Old Age: Older age leads to weak and poorly acting immune system. This increases the chances of acquiring MRSA infection.
- Breach In The Continuity Of Skin: When there is breach in the surface of skin because of surgeries, burns, insertion of intravenous lines, insertion of catheters, etc. the bacteria finds its way to enter inside the body leading to infection.
- More People Visiting The Hospital: Due to more number of people visiting the hospitals, the MRSA bacteria are easily spread in the hospital environment leading to infection to the patient whose immune system is already weak and vulnerable.
- Poor Immune System: The immunity of the patient may be weakened due to many reasons like prolonged hospital stay, patients with renal failure and are on dialysis, intravenous drug abuse, major surgical history, etc. (1)
These are the two types of MRSA and above are the risk factors associated with the disease.
Transmission Of MRSA
There are two ways by which a person can contract the MRSA infection and they are:
Close physical contact with the person who is already infected with the bacteria or someone who is just a carrier of the bacteria, which means that they are not infected but are colonized by the bacteria.
Contamination by coming in contact with objects that have been touched by the infected person or a carrier like towels, taps, sinks, handles, etc.
If your skin is normal that means without any abrasions or cuts, then the bacteria cannot infect you as it does not have a source of entrance into the body. On the other hand, if there are cuts or grazes on the skin, the bacterium contaminates the wound and proliferates causing infection.
Many people do not notice the small cuts or breach on the skin and neglect the proper precautions to be taken concerning skin contact with the bacteria. This leads to sudden outbreak of infection and may also spread to other people. There are increased chances of spreading infection in over crowded areas because of close physical contacts with the people. Basic hygiene technique like washing hands regularly has been observed to reduce the chances of infection drastically. (2)
- Can MRSA Go Away On Its Own?
- Does MRSA Spread Quickly?
- How Long Does It Take For MRSA To Go Away?
- How To Prevent MRSA?
- Does MRSA Affect Your Immune System?
- How Can I Tell If I Have MRSA?