East Central Health of Georgia

East Central Health District



(Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Bacteria)

What is MRSA?

  • MRSA is the acronym for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
  • MRSA is a strain of the common Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (staph).
  • Staph is one of the most common causes of skin infections in the U.S.
  • MRSA is a type of staph that is hard to treat with commonly used antibiotic medications – it developed something called resistance. Because of resistance, MRSA can be hard to treat and can lead to life-threatening blood or bone infections.

How common are MRSA infections and what is Community-Acquired/Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA)?

  • Previously Staph infections were found almost exclusively in hospitals, but now is becoming a rapidly growing problem in our communities (known as CA-MRSA, or Community Acquired MRSA).
  • Healthy people carry Staph on the skin or in the noses. The majority of Staph infections are minor; however, Staph can cause more serious infections that require special antibiotic treatment.
  • Athletes have to be particularly concerned about MRSA because it is so easily spread from person to person.

Why Athletes, and who is at risk?

  • Anyone who is in physical contact with other people on a regular basis is at high risk for acquiring CA-MRSA and other potentially dangerous bacterial infections, as it estimated that 30-50% of the population carries the bacteria on their bodies every day. MRSA is almost always spread by direct, physical contact, like openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions and poor hygiene.
  • Athletic facilities provide the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, as they can be warm and humid. MRSA can be spread through touching objects such as towels, clothing, workout areas and sports equipment that have MRSA germs on them. It can live on the skin and survive on objects and surfaces for more than 24 hours.
  • It is suspected that athletes also become more susceptible as their immune system temporarily lowers after a hard workout.

What does MRSA infection look like and what can it do to me?

  • MRSA can present itself in various forms of skin infections ranging from boils, blisters, rashes, pimples or ingrown hairs – often occurring in the armpits, groin, neck, and buttocks.
  • Symptoms may include redness, warmth at the site, swelling, pus, and skin tenderness. Unexplained fever, muscular pain and/or fatigue, especially in the several months following a skin infection might be a MRSA infection.
  • MRSA-infected skin lesions (sores) can change from skin or surface irritations to abscesses or serious skin infections. If left untreated, MRSA can infect the blood and bones.
  • Often, MRSA is initially diagnosed as a spider bite.

What kind of treatment can I get for MRSA infection?

  • Once it is suspected that you have a Staph infection, a doctor can take a sample/culture of the infection and send it to a lab for testing.
  • If the Staph germs that are tested cannot be treated/killed with standard antibiotics then the infection is called MRSA.
  • Many MRSA infections can be treated by draining the abscess or boil (ONLY HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS/DOCTORS) and may not require antibiotics.
  • Most MRSA infections are treatable with antibiotics; however, in a severe case you may need a very strong antibiotic that can only be given in a hospital.

How can I prevent MRSA infection and what can schools do about this problem?

  • According to CDC (The Centers for Disease Control), good personal hygiene will help prevent skin infections.
  • Shower and wash with soap and water regularly immediately after practice, competition, and training.
  • Do Not share personal care items such as soap, towels and razors, uniforms, and sports equipment that directly touch your body.
  • Take home practice clothes, towels, and other linens on a daily basis and return clean practice clothes back to school.
  • Wash practice clothes, uniforms and other sports related linens in hot water and laundry detergent. Using a hot dryer, rather than air drying, also helps kill bacteria.
  • Wipe down athletic equipment and materials with sanitizer (when possible).
  • Notify coaches, athletic trainers and the school’s clinic staff of any wounds that are potentially infected.
  • Keep all wounds clean and covered and avoid contact with other’s open wounds, or anything that could possibly be contaminated by infection (boils, blisters, etc).
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after practice, competition and training.