About Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to several antibiotics and most often causes skin infections.

How is it transmitted?

MRSA is transmitted through direct contact with an infected wound or by sharing personal items (e.g. towels or razors) that have touched infected skin. MRSA can also be transmitted through direct contact with objects such as shared equipment or supplies, or even from floors and sinks that have been touched by a MRSA-infected person or carrier.

Signs and Symptoms

Most staph skin infections, including MRSA, appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that might be:

  • Red
  • Swollen
  • Painful
  • Warm to the touch
  • Full of pus or other drainage
  • Accompanied by a fever

These can turn into deep, painful abscesses that require draining. Often, people with MRSA skin infections first think they have a spider bite, However, unless a spider is actually seen, the irritation is likely not a spider bite.


Although MRSA is resistant to several antibiotics, the infection will still respond to certain antibiotics for treatment. In some cases, the superficial abscess caused by MRSA will be drained by a doctor and antibiotics may not be necessary.


Precautionary measures to reduce spread of MRSA include:

  • Wash hands often and clean your body regularly, especially after exercise.
  • Keep cuts, scrapes, and wounds clean and covered until healed.
  • Do not try to treat the infection one’s self by picking or popping the sore.
  • Avoid sharing personal items (e.g. towels and razors).
  • Wash used linens and clothing thoroughly.

If you think you have MRSA and have worsening symptoms (e.g. new lesions, fever > 100.4, increased redness, drainage, or pain), please contact Student Health Service 215-746-3535 and select the option to speak with a nurse.




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(updated 8/2/2016)