MRSA: The Most Significant Disease of the Last Century

14 04 2011

(UCLA, 2011)

MRSA is a disease of our own creation; our Frankenstein. Due to the overuse of antibiotics, we took a non-pathogenic bacteria and transformed it into a deadly juggernaut that is not only hard to fight, but also attacks those of us that are weakest.

As you read on, you will see why MRSA is the most significant disease of the last 100 years.


What is MRSA?

14 04 2011

MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant staphylococcus aureus) is a strain of staphylococus aureus bacteria that normally lives on the skin and sometimes in the nasal passages of healthy people. MRSA is the result of the overuse of antibiotics. The normal staph bacteria evolved to be resistant to the standard antibiotics used in the treatment of antibiotic infection. MRSA usually starts as a skin infection but if the bacteria enter the body it can result in a mild to severe infection. A person is more vulnerable to an infection from the bacteria if you have a weakened immune system. The bacterium eats away at the skin and spread very rapidly.

(Juijitsu, 2011)

There are two types of MRSA infections, Community Acquired MRSA and Hospital Acquired MRSA.  The disease is the same, although oftentimes CA-MRSA is less severe. They are spread in the same way, through contact with the bacteria and also treated similarly. The difference is that HA-MRSA is acquired in the hospital, and CA-MRSA is acquired in the community. Some common places you can come in contact with CA-MRSA are:

  • Gyms
  • Prisons
  • Schools
  • Dormitories
  • Day Care centers
  • Military Barracks (Evans, R, 2008)

History of MRSA

14 04 2011

(CleanPhurst, 2011)

The history of MRSA starts with the discovery of antibiotics in 1928, but it does not begin to affect the medical community until the 1940’s when penicillin starts to be mass produced and used to treat most infections (MRSA, 2009).  It was designed to treat a number of illnesses and infections, and became the go-to drug for most doctors. In the 1960’s MRSA was isolated in a British study. In the next seven years Western Europe and Australia would have frequent outbreaks.

From the 1970’s to the mid 1990’s MRSA would become recognized around the world and become an epidemic, more frequently in large urban hospitals and the percentage of hospitalized patients infected with the antibiotic resistant infection would continue to rise (University of Chicago, 2010). Up until 2008, there were such a high amount of cases that 1998-2008 became the “CA-MRSA Epidemic Decade (University of Chicago, 2010)

Symptoms of MRSA

14 04 2011

Symptoms of MRSA include:

Physical characteristics of a MRSA infection include: swollen, red, pus filled lesions, boils or abscesses. Red bumps on the skin caused by cellulitis can also present themselves.

(MRSA Wounds, 2011)

Sepsis as a result of a MRSA infection can present the following symptoms

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Hypotension
  • Weakness
  • Mental deterioration
  • Pneumonia (, 2011)

MRSA is transferred from person to person by skin to skin contact. To prevent MRSA, the nurses and doctors need to practice proper hand hygiene and wear gloves. (Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals, 2011)

While it is less likely, it is also possible to get infected from dust that contains skin particles carrying MRSA.

The Physiology of MRSA

14 04 2011

(Litigation Conferences, 2011)

The MRSA organism can be present on nose hair, urine, sputum or on an open wound. The organism is transferred by direct skin contact, usually by hands. (Professionals in Infection Control & Epidemiology, Inc. – Greater Omaha Area, 2011)

MRSA lives in soft tissue and is usually fought off by our white blood cells. If the organism enters through a cut, it is harder to destroy this infection. When MRSA enters the blood stream or organs this bacteria is not life threatening. (Clark, 2011)

MRSA’s Effect on the Body

14 04 2011

(MRSA Prevention, 2011)

MRSA Infections can affect the body in the following ways:

Lungs (pneumonia)

MRSA enters the bloodstream and implants itself in the soft tissues of the lungs. The MRSA then breeds and thus causing infection and pus build up along with inflammation and swelling. This results in pneumonia. In the case where antibiotics cannot target MRSA there is a chance of lung failure.

Bone (osteomyelitis)
MRSA bacteria infect the bone cells and cause them to become brittle. In severe cases, the blood cell producing functions of the femur by the infection of the bone tissue causes greater troubles for the patient.

Soft Tissue (cellulitis)
Cellulitis infection of dermis and subcutaneous tissues from MRSA makes the cell walls brittle due to the infection brought about by MRSA. This causes wide cellular failure leading to organ failure, as cells are incapable to function properly.

Inner Lining Of The Heart (endocarditis)
In this case MRSA is carried to the thin sac covering the heart causing infection and inflammation. This interferes with the proper functioning of the heart increasing the chances of cardiac arrest.

MRSA is carried to the brain cells causing infection in the brain. As the pus and inflammation build up there is pressure on the brain resulting in a whole bunch of functional troubles from the individual. (Careman, 2011)


14 04 2011

(The Epoch Times, 2008)

If the infection is mild, and only presents itself as an abscess, the best course of treatment is incision and drainage.

Treating MRSA can be tricky because the overuse of the antibiotics that are effective against the bacteria can also be rendered useless. There are already 2 antibiotics used for MRSA that are showing resistance in some cases: Clindamycin, and Vancomycin. This has sprouted a new superbug in the same family: VRSA or Vancomycin- resistant staphylococcus aurus.

Other antibiotics that are still commonly used for HA-MRSA is Linezolid, rifampin, mupricin (for minor skin infections only) (, 2011)

CA-MRSA can sometimes be treated with Trimethoprim- sulfamethoxazole and Doxyclcine (emedicinehealth, 2011)