MRSA stands for methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus. It is a type of bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. The bacteria causes an infection. Most of the time it is a skin infection, soft tissue infection, lung infection, or others. If it is untreated, it can become very severe and cause sepsis. 

Signs and symptoms

Appears as a bump or infected area on the skin that might be:

  • Red
  • Swollen
  • Painful

  • Warm to touch
  • Full of pus or other drainage
  • Accompanied by a fever

Symptoms if the MRSA infection is in the blood or deep tissue:

  • A fever of 100.4 F or higher, or a temperature below 96.8
  • Chills
  • Feeling faint
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Muscle pain
  • Swelling and tenderness in the affected body part
  • Chest pain – possible if infective endocarditis or lung infection as the primary source, but not a likely symptom if the source is skin/soft tissue

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Increases respiratory rate

Symptoms if in the lungs:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blood-tinged sputum
  • High fever


  • MRSA can spread from person to person through direct skin-to-skin contact
  • It can also spread when a person with MRSA bacteria on their hands touches an object that another person then touches

Risk factors

  • Prior antibiotic use
  • People of all ages
  • Activities or places that involve crowding
  • Skin to skin contact
  • Shared equipment or supplies
  • Open abrasions or incisions on skin
  • Inpatient medical care
  • Surgery


  • Take antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor 

When to seek care

Call your doctor if you have signs of active infection. Most likely, the skin will be spreading, painful, red rash or abscess.


  • Maintain good hand and body hygiene
  • Clean hands and body often, especially after exercise
  • Keep cuts, scrapes, and wounds clean and covered until they are fully healed
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as towels and razors

Campus Resources

Nebraska Medicine University Health Center offers services to help prevent and treat infections, like MRSA. Appointments are required for all visits. To schedule, call 402.472.5000. Learn more about hours.