What are MRSA tests?
MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is a type of staph bacteria. Many people have staph bacteria living on their skin or in their noses. These bacteria usually don’t cause any harm. But when staph enters the body through a cut, scrape, or other open wound, it can cause a skin infection. Most staph skin infections are minor and heal on their own or after treatment with antibiotics.
MRSA bacteria are different than other staph bacteria. In a normal staph infection, antibiotics will kill the disease-causing bacteria and prevent them from growing. In a MRSA infection, the antibiotics usually used to treat staph infections don’t work. The bacteria are not killed and continue to grow. When common antibiotics don’t work on bacterial infections, it’s known as antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance makes it very difficult to treat certain bacterial infections. Every year, nearly 3 million people in the United States are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and more than 35,000 people die from the infections.
In the past, MRSA infections mostly happened to hospital patients. Now, MRSA is becoming more common in healthy people. The infection can be spread from person to person or through contact with objects that are contaminated with the bacteria. It is not spread through the air like a cold or flu virus. But you can get a MRSA infection if you share personal items such as a towel or a razor. You may also get the infection if you have close, personal contact with someone who has an infected wound. This can happen when large groups of people are close together, such as in a college dorm, locker room, or military barracks.
A MRSA test looks for the MRSA bacteria in a sample from a wound, nostril, or other body fluid. MRSA can be treated with special, powerful antibiotics. If left untreated, a MRSA infection can lead to serious illness or death.
Other names: MRSA screening, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus screening