Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are a growing health problem today, with thousands of people getting infected – sometimes, even killed – by these dangerous bacteria. One of the most dangerous types is the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, more popularly known as MRSA. 

MRSA infection is progressively spreading in the United States. A 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that in 2005 alone, there were nearly 100,000 cases of invasive MRSA infection in the United States, 18,600 of which led to death.

MRSA is a type of staph bacteria. Most staph bacteria are relatively harmless, and up to 30 percent of people carry it in their nose without any dangerous consequences. But sometimes, the bacteria grow out of control and enter your body, most commonly through an open wound, leading to an infection.

This simple skin infection can progress into a life-threatening condition, especially when it moves to other areas of your body, such as your lungs, heart valves, bones, joints, bloodstream, and surgical wounds.  

MRSA is resistant to broad-spectrum antibiotics like methicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and amoxicillin, which makes it much more dangerous and difficult to treat. It can spread through contact – simply touching a person of an object that has the bacteria can put you at risk of getting the infection.

MRSA starts out as a skin infection: small, red, pimple-like bumps or boils will appear on your skin, and then progress into deep and painful pus-filled abscesses. When the infection penetrates other areas of your body, such as your lungs, you will experience symptoms like:    

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Chills

If you suspect that you have an MRSA infection, you must get tested right away to determine if you are carrying the bacteria. Skin abscesses caused by MRSA infections may need to be drained. In severe MRSA cases, the antibiotic Vancomycin can still be used to get rid of the bacteria.

As with any health condition, prevention is always better than cure. Here are several helpful tips to avoid MRSA infection:

  • Avoid healthcare settings as much as possible. Six out of seven MRSA cases are commonly picked up in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and dialysis centers.
  • Wash your hands using clean water and a mild, fragrance-free soap. 
  • Avoid sharing your personal items with other people. MRSA can spread through contact with contaminated objects, such as towels and clothing. This is why MRSA infections are rampant in gyms and salons.
  • Opt for natural disinfectants instead of antibacterial house cleaners. Excessive use of antibacterial cleaners is one of the reasons why antibiotic-resistant bacteria are spreading today. Instead of these chemical cleaners, try using hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Simply put each liquid into a separate spray bottle, and then spray the surface with one followed by the other.