MRSA Fast Facts

This 2005 scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicted numerous clumps of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, commonly referred to by the acronym, MRSA; Magnified 9560x.

(CNN)Here is some background information about MRSA.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria are resistant to all beta-lactam antibiotics such as methicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and amoxicillin. A MRSA infection can be fatal, and is sometimes called the "Super Bug."
Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are commonly found on the skin and in the noses of healthy people.
Skin infections from staph bacteria are called staph infections; staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infection in the United States.
    Staph bacteria are a common cause of pneumonia, surgical wound and bloodstream infections.
    Most of these infections can be treated without antibiotics.
    Twenty-five to thirty percent of the population is colonized with staph, and less than two percent is colonized with MRSA. Colonized means bacteria is present but doesn't cause infection.
    Types of MRSA Infections: (Source: JAMA)
    The majority of staph and MRSA infections occur in hospitals or other health care settings, among patients with weakened immune systems. These are called hospital-associated or healthcare-associated MRSA infections. (HA-MRSA).
    Risk factors for an HA-MRSA infection include current or recent hospitalization, living in a nursing home or long-term antibiotic use.
    MRSA infections occurring in people who have not been hospitalized/haven't had a medical procedure in the past year and are otherwise healthy are called community-associated MRSA infections (CA-MRSA).
    Risk factors for a CA-MRSA infection include having an underdeveloped or weakened immune system, playing contact sports, association with healthcare workers (family, friends, etc), or living in crowded or unsanitary conditions.
    Red bumps that look like pimples or boils. They can become painful abscesses that must be surgically drained.
    The infection site can resemble a spider bite.
    The bacteria can cause infections in surgical wounds, and can get into the bloodstream and bones.
    MRSA is diagnosed by checking for signs of drug-resistant bacteria in nasal secretions or tissue samples. Tests that can detect staph DNA yield faster results than growing the bacteria in a lab.
    Wash hands often with warm water and soap or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    Cover open wounds and keep them clean until healed.
    Avoid sharing personal hygiene items such as towels, sheets, clothing and toiletries.
    According to the CDC, there were more than 80,000 invasive MRSA infections and 11,285 related deaths in 2011.
    According to the CDC, between 2005 and 2011, overall rates of invasive MRSA dropped 31%.
    2011 - A study by researchers at UC Davis finds that the number of children hospitalized due to community-acquired MRSA doubled between 2000 and 2007.
    August 2012 - Researchers from the University HealthSystem Consortium and University of Chicago Medicine publish a study indicating the "rate of MRSA infections recorded at US academic hospitals doubled between 2003 and 2008."
    May 29, 2013 - A study released in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that "germ-killing soaps and ointments" used in ICU's reduced cases of MRSA by 40%.
      June 2014 - The US Food and Drug Administration approves a new drug to treat bacterial skin infections like MRSA. The new drug, called Dalvance, is taken intravenously. The drug is only approved for use in adults.
      September 18, 2014 - US President Barack Obama issues an executive order establishing a new inter-agency task force charged with developing a national strategy to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.