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Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria are commonly found in the nose and on the skin of healthy people without people knowing it is there. MRSA is a strain of staphylococcus aureus infection that is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin. Most MRSA infections are skin infections that may appear as pustules, boils, impetigo and infected lacerations. The infections commonly occur at sites of visible trauma, such as cuts and abrasions.
 
What are the symptoms of MRSA?
Infected wounds may appear red, warm to touch and swollen. If lesions become widespread, the person may develop fever, tiredness, headaches and a loss of appetite. More serious infections such as pneumonia, bloodstream and bone infections are very rare in healthy people who get the skin infections.
 
How is MRSA spread?
Staphylococcus germs often live in the nose. MRSA infections are transmitted most often by direct skin to skin contact or contact with shared items or surfaces that have come into contact with someone else’s infection (towels, washcloths, razors, clothing, used bandages).
 
How common is MRSA?
MRSA is not that common but the number of Staph aureus infections that are resistant to common antibiotics is increasing. Most people are identified as carriers of the infection during routine testing or swabbing of the nose or skin taken before a stay in hospital. Others are identified when testing is done if an MRSA infection occurs.
 
How long does MRSA last?
Healthy people can carry MRSA in their nose or on their skin, or in wounds that do not heal for weeks or longer. People who carry MRSA can sometimes clear the bacteria from their bodies but the MRSA can return particularly in people who take antibiotics.
 
How are MRSA infections treated?
People who are healthy and are carrying MRSA in their nose or on their skin do not need treatment. Normal activities can continue without posing a risk to others but regular hand washing is recommended to reduce the chance of spreading MRSA when touching surfaces with your hands. It is not necessary to disclose to your workplace, school or child care setting that you carry MRSA.
 
Mild infections of the skin often may not need to be treated. If necessary, antibiotics will be prescribed by your doctor.
 
More to know
  • If you are healthy and living in the community, your chances of becoming sick with MRSA are low, even if you have had contact with someone with MRSA.
  • You may be at higher risk of getting infected with MRSA if you have had long term use of antibiotics, if you have had long term hospital stays, if you have long-term illnesses and/or you use injection drugs.
  • Practice good hand hygiene (using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or washing with soap and water when hands are visibly soiled).
  • Cover all skin lesions with a clean dry bandage until healed.
  • Avoid sharing personal items.
  • Maintain a clean environment.