Worse, it can cause trouble quickly. What starts as a skin infection can become a deadly pneumonia or blood or bone infection in a matter of days if not treated correctly.
Up until recently, doctors hadn't seen MRSA in healthy young people outside the hospital, said Dr. Robert Daum of University of Chicago Hospitals. "MRSA is a denizen of the hospital," he said. "It lives here."
MRSA is resistant to anywhere from 15 to 30 different antibiotics. That means when it's detected, a doctor has only a very small number of compounds at hand that are able to kill it.
"Bacteria are unlike us humans. We have a generation time of about 25 years. They have a generation time of 20 minutes," he said. "They can adapt pretty fast."
Daum said he is seeing a strain in the Midwest that is so severe, it has caused deaths even when the right antibiotic is used.
This week, Courson and his fellow athletic trainers held a workshop to discuss ways to keep their own locker rooms as germ-free as possible. Some of their recommendations:
Don't share towels or wipe your face with a towel you use on equipment.
Don't ignore skin infections that won't heal.
Shower after a workout.
Use liquid soap, not bars.
Wash your hands -- well. To kill germs you must wash under nails and rub thoroughly for 20-30 seconds