Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium responsible for difficult-to-treat infections in humans. It may also be referred to as multiple-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or oxacillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (ORSA). MRSA is by definition a strain of Staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to a large group of antibiotics called the beta-lactams, which include the penicillins and the cephalosporins.
MRSA is a resistant variation of the common bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. It has evolved an ability to survive treatment with beta-lactamase resistant beta-lactam antibiotics, including methicillin, dicloxacillin, nafcillin, and oxacillin. MRSA is especially troublesome in hospital-associated (nosocomial) infections. In hospitals, patients with open wounds, invasive devices, and weakened immune systems are at greater risk for infection than the general public. Hospital staff who do not follow proper sanitary procedures may transfer bacteria from patient to patient. Visitors to patients with MRSA infections or MRSA colonization are advised to follow hospital isolation protocol by using the provided gloves, gowns, and masks if indicated. Visitors who do not follow such protocols are capable of spreading the bacteria to cafeterias, bathrooms, and elevators.

Discovery and history

MRSA/Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus was discovered in 1961 in the United Kingdom. It made its first major appearance in the United States in 1981 among intravenous drug users. MRSA is often referred to in the press as a "superbug."

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