There has been an increasing concern over a bacterial skin infection known as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.

The skin infection can affect all populations. Once only common in hospital settings, MRSA has moved into the community.

MRSA can be contracted from most common surfaces or by coming in direct skin-to-skin contact with some one who is infected. There must be a break in the skin before the germ can cause an infection.

Below are some questions and answers that will help create a better understanding of this particular skin infection and how to prevent its spread.

What is Staphylococcus Aureus or Staph?

Staph is a type of bacteria. It may cause skin infections that look like pimples or boils. Skin infections caused by staph may be red, swollen, painful or have pus or other drainage. Some staph are resistant to certain antibiotics, making it harder to treat.

Who gets Staph infections?

Anyone can get a staph infection. People are more likely to get a staph infection if they have:

• Skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a staph infection

• Contact with items and surfaces that have staph on them

• Openings in their skin such as cuts or scrapes

• Crowded living conditions

• Poor hygiene

How serious are Staph infections?

Most staph skin infections are minor and may be easily treated.

Staph also may cause more serious infections, such as infections of the bloodstream, surgical sites or pneumonia.

Sometimes, a staph infection that starts as a skin infection may worsen. It is important to contact a doctor if the infection does not get better.

How are the Staph infections treated?

Treatment for a staph skin infection may include taking an antibiotic or having a doctor drain the infection.

If you are given an antibiotic, be sure to take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless your doctor tells you to stop taking it.

Do not share antibiotics with other people or save them to use later.

How do I keep Staph infection from spreading?

• Wash hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

• Keep cuts and scrapes clean and cover them with bandages

• Do not touch other people’s cuts or bandages

• Do not share personal items like towels or razors

– Kenner Army Health Clinic