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Understanding Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

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

Transmission and Infection of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

Good hygiene is the best defense against staph infections. In addition to the guidelines on this slide, it is important to pay attention to pimples, insect bites, cuts, and abrasions, especially in children and young adults. See a health professional if a skin problem looks like it has become infected. The site of a typical staph infection is red, swollen, and painful, often with pus or other drainage. If an antibiotic is prescribed, it is important to take all the doses, even if the infection appears to improve before the medication is gone. Antibiotics should not be shared or saved for future use.

Researchers are beginning to unravel the inner mechanisms of MRSA infections. For example, recent studies show that CA–MRSA secretes higher amounts of a peptide than other bacteria that causes neutrophils (immune cells) to burst, thereby debilitating the immune system. It also produces proteins that make the microbe stickier, so it can invade tissue more easily. With this type of information, scientists hope to develop new drugs that attack the biology of the bacteria, rather than focusing only on finding new antibiotics that kill it.