Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), is a bacterial infection that does not respond to antibiotics, such as penicillin, that are used to treat other staph infections. The symptoms of MRSA commonly appear near a wound or cut on the skin. If MRSA moves beyond the skin, the symptoms can include a fever, cough, or trouble breathing.
MRSA can enter a person's body if she comes in contact with a surface that has been contaminated with the bacteria. Usually, the symptoms of MRSA appear on the skin and initially look like a small red bump. A person may think she has been bitten by a bug or gotten a pimple. The area infected with MRSA will usually be painful and filled with pus. If left untreated, the swollen area can develop into a skin abscess, which is a pocket below the surface of the skin filled with pus.
Symptoms of MRSA such as abscesses can be treated by draining, especially if they have not gone very deeply into the skin. Certain antibiotics, such as Vancomycin, can also clear up a MRSA infection. It is important that a person takes a complete course of antibiotics to cure MRSA and that she lets her doctor know if there is no improvement.
If the disease is contained quickly enough, it will not move past the skin and into other organs of the body. Unfortunately, MRSA sometimes gets into the lungs or bloodstream of a person. These more severe infections generally occur in hospital settings, where it spreads from patient to patient.
A person who has the flu runs the risk of developing MRSA pneumonia if she comes in contact with the bacteria. The symptoms of MRSA pneumonia include coughing, trouble breathing and chest pain. This generally occurs because a person's immune system is worn down from fighting the flu and cannot fight off an additional infection. While MRSA pneumonia is deadly, it is not an airborne infection, the way the flu is.
Other symptoms of MRSA can include a headache, muscle pain and feelings of fatigue. A person experiencing symptoms may only have a sense of general unwellness, but not be sure what to blame it on. If the bacteria gets into the bloodstream, a person can go into septic shock. In extremely rare and severe cases, MRSA can lead to a flesh eating bacterial infection, necrotizing fasciitis. As its name suggests, the infection eats skin tissue and does a lot of damage to the body in a short amount of time.