Killer bugs are out there and with a little help from well intentioned doctors overusing antibiotics they are becoming even worse. MRSA or methicillin resistant staph aureus besides being a tongue twister refers to a particularly nasty bacteria. This bad boy carries multiple genes for resistance to commonly used antibiotics. It causes what look like spider bites but in fact are pus pockets. These can form anywhere on the body.

Earlier on these infections only occurred in patients who had been hospitalized, or were on multiple antibiotics.  Nowadays MRSA can even occur in those who are not sick and not on antibiotics.  It is often seen among people who spend a lot of time together like on sports teams.  These pus pockets are red, tender and needed to be drained.  The pus should be cultured as not every pus is MRSA.  Most of the time simply opening up the pus pocket, draining its pus and then packing it with gauze is enough.  If the pus pocket or abscess is large and or has redness on the skin around it, antibiotics which are not resistant to MRSA should be taken.

MRSA unfortunately also causes life threatening infections such as pneumonia.  For some reason these infections seem to occur in young otherwise healthy individuals.

Most hospital workers are colonized with this bug.  Thus, handwashing is crucial in preventing transmission to unwitting patients. If someone in your family has MRSA you should use alcohol based soaps such as Prell and wash all their linen daily.  At times a person may be a carrier and seem otherwise well.  He would need to be treated with antibiotic nasal ointment (as the nose is often the source of the infection).You should not share toothbrushes (who does that anymore?) And of course although these infections are not sexually transmitted, they are acquired through close, daily contact, so you might consider holding off until things quiet down.

Preventing these infections involves avoiding antibiotics for colds, bronchitis and other conditions which will get better just as fast without antibiotics.  A single course of antibiotics will raise the risk of antibiotic resistant bugs for months afterward.  The next time you have the sniffles, think twice about slugging that megacillin antibiotic!