MRSA: The Facts

Unfortunately, a lot of people do not understand or have the correct knowledge in relation to MRSA. Here are a few facts that may help to ease people’s fears.

Let’s start with what exactly is MRSA! MRSA stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. It is a type of strain of Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria that at least 20-30% of people carry around harmlessly on their skin or in their nose without even knowing it. These people are described as being colonised, but they are not infected. When you are colonised, MRSA is present somewhere on your body without causing harm. When you are infected, MRSA is damaging tissue.

MRSA may cause an infection if it can enter through the body. This can happen through a cut or wound and it can cause infections such as boils or abscesses.

MRSA means that the Staph Aureus has become resistant to treatment with the antibiotic Methicillin, and usually several other antibiotics too. But aside from this, it behaves exactly as ordinary Staph Aureus. It does not cause different or more serious infections, but there are fewer antibiotics available to treat an MRSA infection if it occurs.

MRSA is not a risk to healthy people in the community. The main risk is to hospital patients, especially those who are severely ill or having major surgery.

MRSA is most commonly found on people in their nose, throat, armpits, groin, perineum, wounds and bladder. MRSA can also survive in dust.

How does a person get MRSA and how does it spread?

A person tends to get MRSA if

  • Have recently taken a few courses of antibiotics,
  • Are often admitted to hospital
  • Have been unwell and have contact with someone with MRSA

MRSA is usually spread by hands. If a person caring for someone with MRSA and does not wash and dry hands properly, the MRSA can be passed on to the next person that they touch.

Remember for a person to develop MRSA infection, there must be some way for it to enter the body, for example trough a drip, wound, cut or drain.

Can MRSA be treated and How?

Yes MRSA can be treated, but it is more difficult to treat than other types of infection because there are fewer types of antibiotics to work against it.

Often MRSA can go away on its own but if you are due to go into hospital for surgery, then you might be prescribed lotions, washes, creams, ointments and/or powders to get rid of MRSA first.

The best treatment of MRSA is preventing it. Washing your hands is the most important measure to prevent the spread of any infection including MRSA. If you have MRSA, insist that anyone caring for you or in contact with you washes and dries their hands.

Questions that everyone asks!

  • Can I harm my family and friends with MRSA?

No you can’t. There is little risk of transmitting MRSA to healthy people in the home, including pregnant women, children and babies.

  • What precautions should I take visiting people in hospital?

There a few things that everyone can do to stop the spread of any infection including MRSA.

  • Do not visit anyone if you have any flu like symptoms, diarrhoea, vomiting.
  • Wash and dry your hands and use the alcohol gel that is provided in every hospital, as you enter and leave a hospital.
  • Sit on the chairs that are provided at patient’s bedside, try not to sit on beds.
  • Do not touch a patients wound or any tubing, drains, drips or dressings.
  • What precautions should I take at home if I have MRSA or someone I know has MRSA?

Hand washing is a very important you should take regardless if you have MRSA or not. Live your life as you would any day. You do not need to restrict any family or friends. Good hygiene should always be practiced regardless of MRSA being present. This includes hand washing, maintaining good personal hygiene and cleaning you home regularly. This will help prevent MRSA and any other infection from spreading.

Remember prevention is better than cure so ensure you wash your hands thoroughly and correctly