According to the Centers for Disease Control, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is resistant to most commonly used antibiotics, which makes it sometimes fatal, health authorities said. The CDC report said that MRSA may be dormant for many months and then spread through links between colonized or infected people.

There are two strains of MRSA infections-Hospital Acquired (HA), typically found in the critically ill; and Community Acquired (CA), typically found in people without risk factors linked to a hospital, according to Kathy Hogan, infection prevention practitioner. Hogan said the infection is spread from contact with contaminated objects and “the fact that we don’t wash our hands enough.”

She said that people often carry the bacteria in their nose. “You play with your face and you touch things in your environment,” Hogan reasoned.

You may have seen articles like these in the news:

The Associated Press reported that Ashton Bonds, a 17-year-old Virginia high school student died yesterday after being diagnosed with MRSA last week. Officials closed down 21 schools for cleaning to prevent spread of the bacteria.

Or, this one:

MRSA Kills Orlando High School Student - An 18-year-old student from Kissimmee, Florida has died from a powerful strain of staph infection. The Liberty H.S. football player had gone to Osceola Regional Medical Center on Friday complaining of back spasms. He returned to the hospital on Sunday following a reaction to the treatment. He died from a staph infection later Sunday night.

A health department spokesman said they believe Smith contracted MRSA in the community, not the hospital.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics called beta-lactams. These antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such a oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin. In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections. More severe or potentially life-threatening MRSA infections occur most frequently among patients in healthcare settings. While 25 to 30 percent of people are colonized* in the nose with staph, less than 2 percent are colonized with MRSA.

*Colonized: When a person carries the organism/bacteria but shows no clinical signs or symptoms of infection. For Staph aureus the most common body site colonized is the nose.

Can you get MRSA at work? Factors for easy transmittal are referred to as the 5 C’s (according to the CDC)

• Crowding

• Contact…frequent skin-to-skin

• Compromised skin…cuts or abrasions

• Contaminated items…sharing of personal items

• Cleanliness..the lack of cleanliness

Next time, I’ll discuss some of the symptoms 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