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Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that lives on human skin and in noses. This is normal, and does not usually cause a problem. However, Staphylococcus aureus can also cause infections such as boils and abscesses. These infections occur both in healthy individuals and in people who are already sick.

What is MRSA?

MRSA is the same Staphylococcus aureus bacterium that normally lives on skin and in noses. However, many antibiotics no longer kill MRSA. If a person has an MRSA infection, alternative antibiotics must be used.

Many people are carriers of MRSA and never have any symptoms and never develop an infection. Others may have an infection, usually involving the skin. These infections can be treated with antibiotics, local skin care or a combination of both. Local skin care may include draining abscesses or boils (this should be done only by a health care provider). Antibiotics may be given orally or on an outpatient basis or sometimes intravenously. It is important that if you are given an antibiotic, you take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless your doctor tells you to stop taking it. 

How to prevent others from getting MRSA

Good personal hygiene will help reduce the spread of MRSA to others. Remember to:

  • Practice careful hand hygiene

    You and your close contacts should clean your hands frequently with soap and water or waterless antiseptic hand rub. This is particularly important after touching any skin lesion, handling dressings or after doing wound care.
  • Cover your wound

    Particularly if it is open or draining. Follow doctors’ and nurses’ instructions on wound care.
  • Do not share personal items

    This includes towels, washcloths, razors, soap, creams, lotions, cosmetics, toothbrushes, nail files, combs and brushes. Soiled laundry may be washed and dried in the regular cycle of your washer and dryer to kill any bacteria.
  • Keep your environment clean

    This includes your home and other shared common areas. Sports equipment has been identified as a source of spread of MRSA among athletes in the community. Common household detergents are acceptable cleaning agents.
  • Bathe regularly with soap and water

  • Follow your health care provider's instructions

    Tell anyone who treats you that you have MRSA. This will allow them to use precautions to prevent spreading the bacteria to others.

Will MRSA go away?

MRSA might go away, but often it does not. If it does not, no treatment is necessary, but if you develop an infection, your doctor will decide what treatment is necessary.


Get the facts about MRSA at the VCH Communicable Disease Control website:

SOURCE: Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) ( )
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