How is MRSA Treated?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is treated in a variety of ways, depending on the region of the world that the patient is diagnosed in. As a general rule, all treatments focus on finding a form of antibiotic which is effective against the infection, with the hope of not creating resistance to more antibiotics along the way. Even state of the art treatment is not always effective against MRSA; the prognosis can be fatal for particularly virulent forms of this organism.

MRSA is a form of staph bacteria which has developed resistance to antibiotics like methicillin, penicillin, and cephalosporin. In some regions, doctors call it Multiple-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, reflecting the fact that it is resistant to multiple antibiotics, not just methicillin. This “superbug” first emerged in hospitals, but in the late 20th century, it began to make the leap to more general populations, creating a serious public health risk.

Most people have staph on their bodies and around their nostrils. People who are hosting staph but not exhibiting symptoms are said to be “colonized.” Infections emerge when staph is able to enter the body, thanks to cuts, puncture wounds, and so forth, or due to a weak immune system in the patient. Such infections often manifest in the form of an abscess, which is often drained as part of the treatment for MRSA.


One of the big problems with treating an MRSA infection is that it may not be identified right away. A doctor may prescribe several courses of antibiotics for an infection before realizing that it is caused by MRSA, potentially contributing to the development of resistance and setting up a situation in which the patient may have passed the infection on to others. Once an MRSA infection is identified, the patient is typically isolated in a room with dedicated equipment and supplies, and hospital staff are required to don full protective garments before entering the room.

Most hospitals have their own MRSA protocol, which involves a precise series of antibiotics like vancomycin and teicoplanin which are tried in order. If a course of antibiotics does not work, a new antibiotic is tried. If this antibiotic does not work, another is tried, and so forth, until medical staff have exhausted all possible antibiotics in treatment. Some hospitals culture samples from MRSA infections to identify antibiotics which may be more effective, making this process faster. In each case, it is important to fully finish a series of antibiotics, because if a series is left incomplete, it could encourage the staph bacteria to mutate, developing resistance or partial resistance to that antibiotic.

Controlling MRSA is preferable to treating it, since it is so pernicious. Many hospitals have rigorous infection control rules in place, like washing hands well between patients to avoid transmitting bacteria. These facilities also track their infection rates carefully, and move fast to isolate and treat patients suspected of MRSA infection. Some hospitals also routinely test all entering patients for MRSA.

In addition to antibiotics, some other treatments have been considered for MRSA. Some facilities have tested the use of bacteriophages, organisms which eat bacteria, in the hopes of encouraging these organisms to eat the bacteria which cause the infection. Researchers are also working on developing new antibiotics which will be effective against MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant organisms.


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Post 2

i had mrsa in 05 and all they did was cut it out of my back and by the way i'm 15.

Post 1

I have had the Chance of looking through some pictures concerning people with MRSA and they all depict people who are of the white skin. Does this mean that MRSA does not affect the the black race?

Even if it does who is more likely to contract MRSA, a white or black? Can you please a picture if you find any.

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