Frequently Asked Questions About MRSA

  • What is MRSA?
  • What can I do to avoid getting a staph infection?
  • What does MRSA infection look like?
  • Are people with HIV/AIDS at greater risk?
  • Can I get MRSA at the gym? On MUNI?
  • What should I do if I think I have a staph or MRSA infection?
  • How can I learn more about MRSA?

Many of you have heard reports in the media of widespread infection with the strain of MRSA known as USA300. Commonly called a staph infection, MRSA is a type of staph that is resistant to some antibiotics. Because of concerns raised in the community, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation would like to share with you some simple information about MRSA.

What is MRSA?

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureusis) is a form of bacteria carried on human skin. Once seen only in hospitals and healthcare facilities, staph infections have been present in the general population for more than 15 years.

What can I do to avoid getting a staph infection?

  • Maintain good hygiene.
  • Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
  • Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.

What does MRSA infection look like?

Staph bacteria, including MRSA, cause skin infections that may look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or surgical wound infections.

Are people with HIV/AIDS at greater risk?

People with weakened immune systems may be at risk for more severe illness if they are infected with MRSA, they should follow the same prevention measures and contact their healthcare provider if they think they have been infected.

Can I get MRSA at the gym? On MUNI?

MRSA is transmitted most frequently by direct skin-to-skin contact. Although certain environments, including health clubs, public transportation and other public venues, have not played a significant role in transmission, it may be a good idea to use a barrier (e.g. clothing or a towel) between your skin and shared equipment, and to wipe surfaces of equipment before use.

What should I do if I think I have a staph or MRSA infection?

See your healthcare provider. Staph infections are treatable.

How can I learn more about MRSA?

Additional information is available through the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/