Community MRSA cases on the rise
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, is typically associated with healthcare settings, affecting those who have been hospitalized or on a breathing machine for an extended amount of time, but the experts claim community-acquired cases are on the rise. This means even the healthiest person is at risk.
MRSA, defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to several antibiotics, is spread through direct contact with someone who's infected or by sharing personal items that touched infected skin.
For the most part, cases in the community are not too severe. They feature a skin irritation that may increase in size over time, may be warm to the touch, and could be accompanied by pus and a fever. Oftentimes, people will mistake the staph skin infection, at first, as a spider bite.
Some cases, however, can turn invasive, and that's when MRSA becomes life-threatening.
"Once it's in the bloodstream, it can go anywhere," said Dr. Patricia Whitley-Williams with the Division of Immunology, Allergy and Infectious Diseases at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "It can affect your heart valves; it can affect your joints, your bones. It can cause a bad heart infection. It can cause pneumonia."
Children are more susceptible to the illness because they lack discipline with washing their hands, and they're generally involved in activities that involve person-to-person contact, but the older crowd isn't immune.
"Adults will tell you they just feel awful. They feel like they've been hit by a big truck," Whitley-Williams added.
Whitley-Williams said the number of children and adults who get community-acquired infections continues to increase, and while invasive cases are rare, healthcare facilities are seeing more than they did 10 years ago.
The advice for the public is what's been preached for decades - wash your hands regularly and avoid sharing personal items such as towels and razors.