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Understanding Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Author(s): by Mary Pat Bolton, MA, RD, LD

Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA)

Unlike hospital-associated MRSA, which usually can be traced to a single source, community-associated strains can be more elusive and aggressive. CA–MRSA now accounts for most skin and soft tissue infections seen in emergency rooms. It often occurs in settings where people live in close quarters, have skin–to–skin contact (such as athletes) or unsanitary conditions.

CA–MRSA is sometimes mistaken for a spider bite or a minor skin problem, but it can progress rapidly to a bloodstream infection or a serious illness called necrotizing pneumonia. This form of pneumonia occurs in only 2% of MRSA infections, but it is fatal in 75% of cases. CA–MRSA can still be treated with several antibiotics, but it is evolving rapidly.