Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

Top Four Tips for Camps

  1. Establish good hygiene policies: MRSA transmission from person to person can be prevented by instituting simple measures including hand-washing policies, policies against sharing personal items (such as razors and towels), and the covering of infections.
  2. Ensure that your health center has established policies to avoid the spread of disease: Eighty-six percent of all invasive MRSA infections are health-care center associated. Insist that your health center establishes stringent polices to avoid transmission. See below for resources.
  3. Train your non-health care staff to detect situations that might lead to transmission of disease: Counselor and program staff can be enforcing hand-washing and personal hygiene policies; and keeping on the look-out for campers with open wounds and infections.
  4. Partner with your local health department: Should an outbreak occur, it is important that you partner with your local public health officials to strategize about next steps and keep everyone safe from further spread of infection.

What is MRSA?

Most Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infections are skin infections. MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics called beta-lactams. These antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin.

Causes of MRSA Infection

MRSA infections, as with all staph, are usually spread by having contact with someone's skin infection or personal items they have used, like towels, bandages, or razors that touched their infected skin. National population-based estimates of invasive MRSA infections are 94,360 invasive MRSA infections annually in the US; with associated 18,650 deaths each year.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following prevention techniques:

  • Frequent hand washing with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rubs, is critical to the prevention of spread of disease.
  • Maintain a clean environment. Establish cleaning procedures for frequently touched surfaces.
  • Do not share personal items. The sharing of personal items such as towels, razors, and clothing can lead to the spread of disease.
  • Use mouth, nose, eye, and hand protection in your health center. Since 86% of MRSA infections are spread in health-care settings, this is expecially important.


Most MRSA infections are skin infections that appear as pustules or boils which often are red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. They often first look like spider bites or bumps that are red, swollen, and painful. These skin infections commonly occur at sites of visible skin trauma, such as cuts and abrasions, and areas of the body covered by hair (e.g., back of neck, groin, buttock, armpit, beard area of men).


Treatment for MRSA infections must be done by properly trained health care providers. Treatment may include drainage of the site and the use use of antibiotics.