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MRSA Information

MRSA: Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus
(adapted from CDC website: )

MRSA refers to a type of infection caused by a ‘Staph” bacteria known to be resistant to some common antibiotics such as Penicillin. While most cases of this infection in the past were acquired in the hospital setting, many cases now are originating in the community setting, thus the term Community Acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA). Skin infections such as abscesses and boils are the most common forms of this infection. The infected area usually starts out as a small bump or pimple which then becomes red, warm, and painful. It may also drain pus.

Staphylococcus bacteria are commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy individuals. They are spread by close contact either through direct physical contact with an infected individual or by indirect contact by touching objects contaminated by the bacteria (e.g. towels, sheets, wound dressings, clothes, or sports equipment). Most CA-MRSA infections are mild and treated successfully with proper hygiene and appropriate antibiotics. Untreated, CA-MRSA can progress to a difficult, potentially life threatening infection.

Here are a few guidelines to help prevent and control Community Acquired MRSA:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoid sharing personal items, like towels, washcloths, razors, and clothing. An individual who becomes infected with MRSA should wash all linens and clothes in hot water and laundry detergent until their infection has cleared.
  • After participating in activities or sports with close personal contact, shower with soap and water immediately.
  • Non-washable gear or equipment (e.g. head-protectors), should be wiped down with alcohol after each use.
  • Athletic equipment such as gym mats and benches should be wiped down regularly with an antibacterial solution.
  • Any cut or break in the skin should be washed with soap and water and a clean dressing applied on a daily basis.
  • Have any suspicious skin sore or boil evaluated by your healthcare provider.
  • Individuals with an infection involving drainage should exclude themselves from participating in activities at risk for transmitting the infection, until the time that the drainage is no longer present and the infected site can be adequately covered with a bandage and clothing.

These measures can be very helpful in ensuring an environment within which there is a significantly reduced risk of obtaining and transmitting this infection. Additional information regarding this and other infections may be found at: or you may contact our Triage Nurse at (865)974-5080.

Student Health Center
Division of Student Life

1800 Volunteer Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37996-3102
Phone: 865-974-3135