Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) - Overview
How is an infection diagnosed?
If your doctor thinks that you are infected with
MRSA, he or she will send a sample of your infected wound, blood, or urine to a
lab. The lab will grow the bacteria and then test to see which kinds of
antibiotics kill the bacteria. This test may take several days.
You may also be tested if your doctor suspects that you are a MRSA
carrier. A MRSA carrier is a person who has the bacteria living on the skin and in the nose but
who is not sick. The test is done by taking a swab from the inside of the
How is an infection treated?
Depending on how serious your infection is, the doctor may drain your
wound, prescribe antibiotic medicine, give you an IV (intravenous)
antibiotic, or hospitalize you.
If you have a MRSA infection and need to be in a
hospital, you may be isolated in a private room to reduce the chances of
spreading the bacteria to others. When your doctors and nurses are caring for
you, they may use extra precautions such as wearing gloves and gowns. If you
have a MRSA pneumonia, they may also wear masks.
Most cases of
community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) begin as mild skin infections such as pimples or boils.
Your doctor may be able to treat these infections without antibiotics by using
a minor surgical procedure that opens and drains the sores.
your doctor prescribes antibiotic medicine, be sure to take all the medicine
even if you begin to feel better right away. If you do not take all the
medicine, you may not kill all the bacteria. No matter what your treatment, be sure to call your doctor if your infection does not get better as
How can I prevent getting or spreading MRSA?
As more antibiotic-resistant bacteria develop,
hospitals are taking extra care to practice infection control, which includes
frequent hand-washing and isolation of patients who are infected with
You can also take steps to protect yourself from
- Practice good hygiene.
- Keep your hands clean by washing them
frequently and thoroughly with soap and clean, running water or using an alcohol-based
hand sanitizer. Hand-washing is the best way to avoid spreading
- Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage, and
avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
- Do not share
personal items such as towels or razors.
- Be smart about using antibiotics. Know that
antibiotics can help treat bacterial infections but they
cannot cure viral infections. Always ask your doctor if
antibiotics are the best treatment. And avoid pressuring your doctor into
prescribing antibiotics when they won't help you get better.
take all your antibiotic medicine as prescribed by your doctor. Using only part
of the medicine may cause antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop.
- Do not save any antibiotics, and do not use antibiotics that
were prescribed for someone else.
- If you are in the hospital,
remind doctors and nurses to wash their hands before they touch you.