Promoting and protecting the health and safety of all Idahoans

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics, including penicillin and related drugs. It is usually treatable, however, with other antibiotics. MRSA was first identified in the United States in 1968 and is carried in the nose or on the skin by about 1% of people. 

MRSA is a type of bacteria commonly called “Staph.” Staph bacteria are carried in the nose or on the skin of about 1 in 3 persons, and in most persons, they cause no harm. Sometimes, however, they can cause infection. Most staph infections, including MRSA infections, are skin infections, which usually clear up with good care and proper coverage of the infected area, and may require antibiotics. Sometimes, infections can be more serious if they occur in certain areas of the body, such as in the blood or bone.

Previously, most recognized cases of MRSA were diagnosed in healthcare settings, such as hospitals. In recent years, MRSA has been diagnosed more frequently in persons who are not in the hospital when diagnosed, and have not been recently hospitalized. In addition, outbreaks of MRSA have been reported in the United States in certain groups, such as persons participating in team sports, in children attending schools or daycares together, in military recruits, inmates of jails or prisons, and men who have sex with men.

Prior to 2008, individual healthcare facilities in Idaho were tracking MRSA and local public health workers were able to assist persons with questions about MRSA, and give advice to schools, long-term care facilities, and other institutions. In 2008, the legislature approved mandating certain restrictions in certain settings, such as schools and daycares and making invasive MRSA, a serious form of MRSA infection, a reportable disease.

Invasive MRSA infections occur in a part of the body that is normally sterile, such as the blood, joint fluid, or internal organs and can be life-threatening. In Idaho, any laboratory that identifies MRSA bacteria in a sample taken from a normally sterile part of the body must report the infection to public health authorities.

July 25, 2014

Invasive MRSA