Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) | Causes & Risk Factors


Who is at risk for HA-MRSA?

People in hospitals and health care facilities who have weak immune systems are at risk of more serious complications if they get HA-MRSA. Many things can weaken a person’s immune system. Some chemotherapy drugs and medicines taken after an organ transplant can weaken the immune system. So can having the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Risk factors for getting HA-MRSA include having surgery, having a medical device implanted (such as a catheter) or having recent antibiotic treatment.

HA-MRSA can spread when health care workers don’t wash their hands well enough between seeing patients. To kill all of the bacteria, hands must be washed thoroughly using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If this isn’t done, the bacteria can spread between infected patients and healthy ones.

To reduce the spread of HA-MRSA, some health care facilities have started testing patients for MRSA when they arrive. The facilities may also monitor those in high-risk areas, such as intensive care units (ICUs).

Who is at risk for CA-MRSA?

Even if you are generally healthy, you can get CA-MRSA. It is spread when you have direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected. You can also get it by using items or touching surfaces that have been contaminated with MRSA.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified factors that increase the risk of spread. These are referred to as the “5 Cs”:

  • Crowding
  • Frequent skin-to-skin Contact
  • Compromised skin, such as skin with cuts or scrapes
  • Contaminated items and surfaces
  • Lack of Cleanliness

Schools, dormitories, military barracks, jails, prisons and daycare centers are some common locations for the 5 Cs. MRSA outbreaks have also occurred among members of sports teams, where skin-to-skin contact, minor cuts and scrapes occur frequently.

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 07/09