Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has adapted in ways that allow it to be resistant to a number of antibiotics, including penicillin, methicillin, and cephalosporins. This adaptation or evolution, has been accomplished by mutation of the genetic material contained in S. aureus. The mutated bacteria are less or no longer susceptible to damage from methicillin.
Overuse of antibiotics is a major contributor to bacterial resistance. Unnecessary or more frequent use of an antibiotic increases the chance of a resistant strain developing. Antibiotic overuse has been termed "antibiotic pressure," which increases the chance of a resistant strain developing. Bacteria sensitive to the antibiotic are destroyed while bacteria resistant to the antibiotic flourish. Using the antibiotic on a resistant strain of bacteria favors the growth of the very microorganism that treatment is intended to eliminate.
Antibiotic pressure may also occur indirectly through inappropriate use of antibiotics. Examples of inappropriate uses include administration to patients with a viral upper respiratory infection, which is not affected by antibiotics, and addition to animal feed to promote growth.
A number of studies have found that patients frequently do not complete a full course of prescribed antibiotic treatment. This can promote the development of antibiotic resistance in some bacteria because they remain in the body and allow resistance to develop. Conversely, an excessively long course of antibiotic treatment adds to the antibiotic pressure, thus favoring the development of resistant strains.
S. aureus toxin-mediated diseases, such as toxic shock syndrome (TSS), staphylococcal food poisoning (SFP), and staphylococcal scalded-skin syndrome (SSSS), are caused by toxins produced by the bacteria. Complete recovery is the rule for SFP and SSS, while TSS has a high mortality rate.
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