What is MRSA?
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a bacterium that is responsible for difficult to treat skin and other infections. Because of MRSA’s resistance to antibiotics used to kill it, MRSA is often called the “super bug.” While MRSA is usually not serious in healthy people, it can cause significant complications such as organ failure or death if it enters the bloodstream. Many survive staph infections if they are only skin deep. However, MRSA can be fatal if left untreated and becomes invasive.

Mapping diseases
MRSA infections primarily originate in the community. Children who participate in contact sports, and individuals who share personal items, have a weakened immune system, live in crowded or unsanitary conditions or live below the US poverty level, are at-risk for MRSA infections. Hospital-acquired MRSA, while often not as virulent as community-acquired MRSA, still presents a serious risk. Patients who have had surgery, a lengthy ICU stay, or undergo dialysis are at high risk to MRSA exposure and infection.

Who is most at risk for a MRSA infection?
MRSA infection affects certain populations disproportionately. Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, young children, the elderly, those in contact with others who are in tight spaces like prisons or the military, or spend time in locker rooms, gyms or sports facilities are at risk due because of frequency of skin-to-skin contact. The elderly, blacks, and males have a higher incidence of MRSA than the general population.

What are the treatment options?Traditional antibiotic treatment options for MRSA have become more and more limited due to increased resistance. Vancomycin and comparable antibiotics remain the first line of defense. Recently, newer antimicrobial agents have been approved, offering physicians newer therapeutic options for treating this major public health problem.

What is the impact of MRSA?
MRSA is a tremendous burden. It is estimated that there are 90,000 deaths a year.


The National Minority Quality Forum has developed the MRSA atlas to enable users to map MRSA prevalence based on the number of hospital discharges -- at the national, state, congressional and state legislative district level. The MRSA atlas can be used to raise awareness in high impact areas and tailor prevention and treatment efforts to that particular locale.

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