Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

This information describes methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), including how it is spread and how infections are treated.

What is methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus?

Staphylococcus (staph) is a type of bacteria that naturally exist in the environment, including on people’s skin. Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics.

MRSA can cause a variety of illness, including:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood infections
  • Wound or skin infections
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What is the difference between being colonized and being infected with MRSA?

A person can be either colonized or infected with MRSA. If a person is colonized, it means that the bacteria is present on their skin or in a body opening, but they have no signs of illness. If a person is infected, it means that the bacteria is present on their skin or in a body opening and it is causing illness.

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How is MRSA spread?

Most MRSA infections are spread by direct contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids (blood, drainage from a wound, urine, stool, or sputum). It can also be spread by contact with equipment or surfaces that have been contaminated with the bacteria. Casual contact, such as touching or hugging, does not spread MRSA.

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Who is at risk for a MRSA infection?

Healthy people are not at high risk for getting MRSA infections. Infections occur more often in people who:

  • Are older
  • Have weakened immune systems
  • Have chronic illnesses
  • Have been treated with antibiotics in the past
  • Have had a recent surgery
  • Have had repeated or prolonged hospitalizations
  • Have open wounds or sores
  • Have tubes or drains in the body
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What are the symptoms of a MRSA infection?

The symptoms vary depending on the location and type of infection.

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How is a MRSA infection treated?

MRSA infections are treated with antibiotics that are not resistant to the bacteria.

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What isolation precautions are taken in the hospital if I have a MRSA infection?

  • If you have been diagnosed with a MRSA infection, you will be placed in a private room.
  • A sign will be posted on the door instructing all staff and visitors to take precautions.
  • All staff and visitors must clean their hands before going into and after leaving your room. They can use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • All staff and visitors who enter your room must wear a yellow gown and gloves.
  • If you leave your room for tests, you must wear a yellow gown and gloves or be covered with a clean sheet.
  • If you leave your room to walk around the unit, you must wear a yellow gown and gloves.
  • You will not be able to go to the following areas of the hospital:
    • Pantry on your unit
    • Recreation center on M15
    • Pediatric recreation areas on M9
    • Cafeteria
    • Main lobby
    • Any other public area of the hospital
  • While following these isolation precautions, you can have art or massage therapy in your room.
  • These precautions will be discontinued after you have received treatment and no longer have symptoms.
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What precautions should I take at home if I have a MRSA infection?

Healthy people are not at high risk for getting MRSA infections. However, be sure to do the following at home:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom.
  • Wash your hands after having contact with blood, urine, or drainage from a wound.
  • Use a disinfectant such as Clorox® or Lysol® to wipe any surface that may have been contaminated with the germ.
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