MRSA (Patient Information)

What is MRSA?

The abbreviation MRSA stands for methicillin resistant Staph aureus.

  • Staph aureus (Staph) is a germ that many people everywhere have on them, most often in their noses and on their bodies.
  • Staph is the most common cause of minor skin infections. Many of these infections can be treated with taking an antibiotic (medicine used to kill bacteria). Occasionally, Staph may cause more serious infections, such as infections of the blood or lungs (pneumonia).
  • Methicillin and oxacillin are the names of two antibiotics used to treat infections caused by Staph.

What is the big deal about MRSA?

MRSA is special because we cannot use the antibiotics we normally use to treat a patient with an infection caused by non-resistant Staph (regular Staph.)

  • The reason certain antibiotics cannot be used is a term called “resistance”. Resistant means that the bacteria have changed themselves and can no longer be killed by methicillin or oxacillin, and certain other antibiotics.
  • There are antibiotics that can treat MRSA, such as vancomycin, but, for many reasons, it is better to be able to use the other medicines.
  • For this reason, the hospital makes special efforts to keep from spreading it to other patients and visitors.

How do you get MRSA?

Staph, both MRSA and regular Staph, are most often spread by close skin- to -skin contact with another person who has the germ.

  • Someone with a cut or scrape may have a bigger risk of getting an infection with regular Staph or MRSA from another person.
  • Being part of a sport that involves close contact or living in crowded living spaces may also give a person a higher chance of getting Staph.

Does MRSA make you sicker?

Healthy people can have MRSA or “regular” Staph on them without ever getting sick.. While MRSA may not cause healthy people to routinely become ill, it can cause infection in anyone. In fact, MRSA is being seen in a larger number of people in the community than ever before.
  • One of the biggest concerns that hospitals have about MRSA is that even though it may not make all people sick, MRSA can make it harder to treat the infection.

What is the most important thing to do to prevent the spread of MRSA?

Good hand cleaning is the most important thing to do to prevent the spread of MRSA both in and out of the hospital.

  • Using an alcohol hand rub or soap and water hand washing are both good methods to rid your hands of germs. The alcohol hand rubs are quick and easy to use and they kill many different germs. (The alcohol hand rubs don’t work well if hands are dirty.) Handwashing with soap and water removes MRSA and many other germs from your hands and is still a great way to help stay healthy.
  • It is important that everyone visiting your child, or any patient in a hospital, has clean hands. This includes family when they come to visit and also all the people caring for your child when they come in to examine him/her. Everyone should clean their hands when leaving the room, as well. It is okay for you to remind people to wash their hands.

What should be done at home?

People at home need to use good cleaning, as they would normally. Having clean hands is an important part of staying healthy and will prevent others from getting MRSA and many other illnesses, too. Since many people don’t even know they have MRSA and healthy people are at lower risk of getting infected with MRSA, people with MRSA should continue on with their usual activities, such as going to school, work, camp, day care, or friends’ houses.

  • If you have a very ill family member or friend and aren’t sure if MRSA may be a problem you may wish to contact your physician.
  • Also, when you go to the doctor’s office, tell any nurses and doctors who treat you that your child has MRSA.