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MRSA Q&A

Where is MRSA found?

First identified during the 1960s, the superbug was found only in hospitals and other health care facilities. And still, that's where it is deadliest. But in the late 1990s, it began showing up in schools, gyms, jails and military barracks, evolving into community-associated MRSA.

How serious is it?

Dr. Eric Coris, a medical professor at USF who has researched MRSA in athletes, said the hospital-acquired strain tends to be more aggressive than the one acquired in community settings.

How is it treated?

For community-acquired MRSA, doctors typically drain abscesses and might use an antibiotic such as Bactrim, doxycycline or Cipro, Coris said. He said it typically takes a few days to heal, though more serious cases require additional time. According to the Mayo Clinic, in some cases, antibiotics might not be necessary and doctors can just drain super­ficial abscesses.

How is it spread?

Contact with an infected person. With football, "You're talking about a contact sport," Coris said. He noted a barely noticeable skin opening — say, a nick from shaving — is big enough for MRSA to invade. Athletes might also share equipment or towels that come into contact with skin. A single infected athlete can quickly cause an outbreak.

What should you do if you think you have MRSA?

Finding an infection early and getting care reduce the chance it becomes severe. The Centers for Disease Control recommends paying attention to signs including redness, warmth, swelling, pus and pain at the site of the sore or cut. Sometimes, these infections can be confused with spider bites. Infections also can occur at sites covered by hair or where uniforms or equipment cause skin irritation or increased rubbing. Coris said for healthy people who encounter the bacteria in a setting such as a gym, preventing the spread of MRSA can be a matter of good hygiene habits, including frequent hand washing with plenty of warm water and soap.

Jodie Tillman, Times staff writer

MRSA Q&A 08/22/13 [Last modified: Thursday, August 22, 2013 11:38pm]
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