What You Need to Know About Methicillin–Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
January 1, 2019
What is MRSA?
MRSA refers to a type of bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) that is resistant to many types of antibiotics. Staph aureus is a commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Methicillin is a type of antibiotic used to treat infections caused by Staph aureus. If Staph aureus is resistant (or does not respond to) Methicillin then it is called MRSA.
What is infection versus colonization?
An infection means that germs are in or on the body and make you sick which results in signs and symptoms such as fever, high white blood cell count, or pneumonia. Germs can also be in the body, but not make you sick. This is called colonization. People who are colonized will have no signs or symptoms. They will feel fine. MRSA can cause an infection or colonization.
What are the risk factors for getting MRSA?
Anyone can be colonized with MRSA. MRSA can be seen on most anyone and most of us do not even know that we are colonized. Patients at highest risk include people with a history of boils, patients on dialysis, and/or patient who have repeated visits to healthcare facilities for care. Patients who have been in a hospital for a long time, sick with a long term illness, are on dialysis, or those who use IV drugs are at risk of getting MRSA.
How do I know if I have MRSA?
Your doctor may order a test sample from your wound, blood, urine, nose, or sputum to be sent to the lab. This test is called a culture. If there is MRSA in the sample, the culture is positive. This means you have MRSA in your body.
What will this mean for my hospital care?
All patients who have a positive culture for MRSA are placed in isolation. Isolation is used to keep from spreading MRSA to other patients. There will be a cart outside the room to hold supplies. A card will be placed on the door to alert everyone to what precautions are needed to enter your room. Hospital staff will wear gowns and gloves to care for you and will sometimes wear a mask. Visitors should report to the nurses station for directions on what to do to enter your room. All of these steps are to keep germs from spreading to others.
Why do I have to be on isolation if my cultures were positive many months ago?
Logan Memorial Hospital wants to actively prevent the spread of MRSA. If you come back into the hospital, you will be placed in isolation until we know that previous sites of infection are healed, and you may also have anterior nares cultures performed to make sure that you are not colonized with MRSA. This is done by swabbing the anterior portion of your nose, then the lab will perform and test and send results in a couple of days notifying us if you are or are not colonized.
What if I am still colonized with MRSA?
You will remain on Contact Precautions while you are in the hospital. Gloves and possibly a gown will be worn by caregivers entering the room, depending on the care they will be providing. If you have a respiratory infection caused by MRSA and you are coughing; you will be placed on Droplet Precautions, this means people in close contact with you will wear a mask.
What should I do when I get home?
- Keep your hands clean by good hand washing with soap and water.
- Practice good hygiene.
- Keeps cuts and abrasions clean and covered with a dressing.
- Do not share personal items such as razors or toothbrushes.
- Follow other discharge instructions of you physician or healthcare professional
Am I Contagious?
Contact with the infected/colonized part of the body is usually what spreads MRSA. You can distribute it to anything you touch if you do not clean your hands. Hands may be washed with soap and water for ten seconds or sanitized with an alcohol-based cleanser. In some cases MRSA will go away for a time, but then it may come back.
Will I ever get rid of MRSA?
Over time your normal skin organisms may take the place of the MRSA. You will no longer be isolated when cultures of previous sites of infection and anterior nares cultures are negative for MRSA.
Where can I get more information about MRSA?
- You may talk with your doctor or nurse
- You may have your nurse contact the infection control director at the hospital
- You may look on the Internet at The Center for Disease Control and Prevention