MRSA is a nasty disease, and highly contagious. This will serve as a strong example of the need for controlling the spread of hospital or community acquired MRSA. As with all regular staph infections, recognizing the signs and receiving treatment for MRSA skin infections in the early stages reduces the chances of the infection becoming severe. Early detection should also lead to infection control; limiting the exposure to other unsuspecting individuals.

Severe Infections

MRSA in healthcare settings usually causes more severe and potentially life-threatening infections, such as bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, or pneumonia. The signs and symptoms will vary by the type and stage of the infection.

A good friend of mine told me the horror story of her 73-year-old father getting a HA-MRSA infection on his lower leg. Within two weeks, they had to amputate his leg below his knee. Subsequently, he got a bloodstream infection and within two weeks, he died. From diagnosis until he passed away took less than 30 days.

I'd like to share this article, originally published in ScienceDaily, July 26, 2012:

MRSA Cases in Academic Hospitals Double in Five Years

Infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) doubled at academic medical centers in the U.S. between 2003 and 2008, according to a report published in the August issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

Researchers from the University of Chicago Medicine and the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) estimate hospitalizations increased from about 21 out of every 1,000 patients hospitalized in 2003 to about 42 out of every 1,000 in 2008, or almost 1 in 20 inpatients. 

“The rapid increase means that the number of people hospitalized with recorded MRSA infections exceeded the number hospitalized with AIDS and influenza combined in each of the last three years of the survey: 2006, 2007, and 2008,” said Michael David, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and one of the study’s authors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there were estimated 94,360 MRSA infections (invasive) in the US with approx. 18,650 deaths. No updated data is available from the CDC and MRSA infections have proliferated in the US from 2005-2010. Many hospitals in the US are switching over to the CDC’s NHSN reporting system as before MRSA was reported to CMS (Centers for Medicaid and Medicare).”

Other organizations estimate the true numbers to be over one million infected in the US with MRSA and over 100,00 deaths. US hospitals use ICD9 coding and many MRSA infections were not included in statistics. Also, MRSA infections have grown rampant in the community causing an alarming rise in CA-MRSA (community-acquired MRSA).

Eight-five percent of all invasive MRSA infections were from healthcare facilities with patients contracting infections after their stay ( two-thirds) and one-third while in the facility.

Fourteen percent of all infections occurred in the community with no exposure to healthcare and this number is continuing to grow.

MRSA strains from the community (CA-MRSA) are entering healthcare facilities within the US and co-mingling with HA-MRSA strains.

Next time we’ll look at environmental cleaning and disinfection of MRSA.


J. Darrel Hicks, REH, CHESP, is the author of "Infection Control For Dummies" and has over 30 years of experience in the jan/san industry. For a free 30-minute phone consultation, contact him at or through his website at