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Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Communicable  Diseases Subjects A-Z



Sexually Transmitted Diseases


Disease Reporting

MRSA methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) or "staph", is a bacterium found in the nose or on the skin of approximately 20-30% of the U.S. population. It causes diseases ranging from mild to severe skin and soft tissue infections to more serious invasive diseases such as blood stream infections, pneumonia and toxic shock syndrome. Although most infections are treated successfully with antibiotics, some cases result in significant injury or death.

MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) refers to S. aureus strains that are resistant to certain antibiotics. MRSA emerged in U.S. hospitals in the 1960s and is now the most common drug-resistant organism found in hospital settings. According to national hospital surveys, MRSA represented two percent of all S. aureus infections in hospitals in 1975, 35% in 1991, and 64% in 2003.

There are two main types of MRSA

  • Healthcare-associated (HA) MRSA is found primarily in hospital patients and long-term care residents.  
  • Community-associated (CA) MRSA occurs in persons who report no contact with healthcare facilities.

General information

MRSA fact sheet - Hmong   
Community-associated MRSA fact sheet - Hmong - Spanish
Community-associated MRSA patient pamphlet
MRSA frequently asked questions

Information for health professionals

Information for schools

Additional resources

CDC guidelines on multi-drug resistant organisms (Exit DHS)
Minnesota Department of Health: Skin infections in athletes guidelines (Exit DHS)   


Gwen Borlaug, Infection Control Epidemiologist
Wisconsin Division of Public Health 
Bureau of Communicable Diseases
(Phone 608-267-7711)  (Fax 608-261-4976)

Wisconsin Local Health Departments - Regional offices - Tribal agencies

Last Revised: October 09, 2014