MRSA stands for methicillin resistant Staphyococcus aureus. However, one could just as easily refer to this germ as "multiply resistant Staph. aureus," since the germ is commonly resistant to most oral and intravenous antibiotics.

This bacterium has become a major problem in medicine. It is believed to have arisen as the inevitable consequence of use and misuse of antibiotics over the last half century, both in human medicine and in farm livestock. By constant exposure, the bacteria have developed resistance factors to successive generations of antibiotics. Now in many communities, 60 per cent or more of Staphylococcus strains are multiply resistant. Not only is MRSA resistant, but it is more aggressive. It spreads faster and forms abscesses more tenaciously than "garden variety" non-resistant Staph.

In our area of the country, MRSA infection is often mistaken for a spider bite (brown recluse). Time usually clarifies the true nature of the diagnosis, however, as the abscess progressively enlarges and matures.

Outpatient treatment of MRSA revolves around early diagnosis and treatment. Trimethoprim-sulfa, an old antibiotic combination, still is effective against many MRSA strains, and surgical incision and drainage of an abscess in the office is often curative. Inpatient care is sometimes necessary for more aggressively advancing or extensive disease.

See: soaking

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