For many people their experience of MRSA will be related to a skin condition. But MRSA can also find it’s way into the bloodstream and cause infections that can only be diagnosed via blood tests and other medical technology. MRSA is the term used for ‘multiple drug resistant’ strains of the common staphylococcus aureus (SA) bacteria that inhabit the skin of 1 in 3 people. MRSA is found on the skin of 1-10% of the population depending on where you live and other lifestyle factors.
Most staph infections are skin infections that can cause or hitch a ride with the following conditions.
* boils (hair follicle infection)
* abscesses (pus under the skin)
* styes (eyelid gland infections)
* carbuncles (large pus-filled lumps – under your skin)
* cellulitis (infections in the deep layer of the skin, fat and tissues)
* impetigo (a contagious skin infection that produces blisters which can then be infected)
Minor skin problems like spots, cuts or burns can become infected. If you have a wound that becomes infected, see your doctor. An MRSA-infected wound will become red, swollen and tender, with yellow pus seeping from it. Skin ulcers, such as pressure ulcers, are often sites of infection.
If MRSA bacteria enter into the bloodstream from your skin, nasal passages, wounds or incision sites, they can affect almost any part of the body. They may cause:
* septicaemia (blood poisoning)
* septic shock (widespread infection of the blood that can be fatal)
* septic arthritis (severe joint problems)
* osteomyelitis (bone marrow infection)
* abscesses deep within the body
* pneumonia (often a complication of seasonal flu)
* endocarditis (infection of the heart lining) – tends to be in older patients
Don’t be tempted to self diagnose a bloodstream infection. You need expert medical opinion and tests if you have an internal infection. There may be other causes which need specialist treatment or MRSA that needs specific drugs.