What is MRSA?
MRSA is the name given to a group of bacteria that belongs to the Staphylococcus aureus (SA) family of bacteria. Most Staphylococcus aureus bacteria can be treated with medicines called methicillin-type antibiotics. However, certain types of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria cannot be treated with methicillin-type antibiotics - the bacteria are resistant to these drugs. These are called Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) bacteria.
It's estimated that one in three healthy people carry Staphyloccocus aureus bacteria on their skin, in their noses or in the back of their throats and are healthy and have no symptoms. This is known as being colonized.
How is MRSA spread?
A person can become colonized with MRSA (or infected if the bacteria enters the body) by:
- skin contact with a person carrying MRSA on their skin
- contact with surfaces and objects that have been touched or used by someone carrying MRSA, such as door handles, razors, towels, and sheets
- contact with dust that contains skin particles carrying MRSA
- touching an open wound or scratching damaged skin, people who are colonized by MRSA can transfer the bacteria from their hands into their body, leading to infection.
In day-to-day life, you can avoid MRSA skin infections by:
- Keeping your hands clean by washing them thoroughly; before and after eating meals, and after using the toilet.
- Keeping cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage or dressing.
- Avoiding touching other people's wounds or dressings.
- Avoiding sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
- Report any unclean toilet or bathroom facilities.
- If you use local gyms, to minimize any potential risk, you should wipe any equipment before and after use, use a barrier (such as a clean towel or clothing) to prevent your skin from touching it and shower after your workout.
What does a staph or MRSA infection look like?
Staph bacteria, including MRSA, can cause skin infections that may look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or surgical wound infections.
What should I do if I think I have a staph or MRSA infection?
See your healthcare provider.