Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Information

What is Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA?)

Staphylococcus aureus is a germ that lives on the skin and mucous membranes of healthy people. Occasionally it can cause an infection. When it develops resistance to certain antibiotics, it is called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

How is MRSA spread?

MRSA can live on hands and objects. It is spread from one person to another by contact, usually on the hands.

For example, you can get MRSA on your hands from:

  • touching material excreted by an infected person
  • touching articles contaminated by a person's skin with MRSA (e.g. towels, sheets, wound dressings, etc.)

What are special precautions required for MRSA?

It is important to take special precautions to stop MRSA from spreading to other patients. These precautions include:

  • single room accommodation, if available (the door can remain open)
  • a mask, gown and gloves worn by your visitors and everyone providing care
  • a sign on your door to remind others about the special precautions
  • cleaning and disinfecting of your room and the equipment used in your room after each use
  • thorough hand cleaning by everyone who enters and leaves your room
  • thorough cleaning of your own hands before you enter and leave your room

What about family and visitors?

Your family and visitors should not help other patients with their personal care, as this may cause the germ to spread. If you have MRSA, all visitors must wear a mask, gown and gloves while in your room. Before leaving your room, they must remove these items and dispose of them in the garbage container and linen hampers in your room. They must then clean their hands.

When should I clean my hands?

You need to clean your hands:

  • after using the bathroom
  • after blowing your nose
  • before eating and drinking
  • before and after you touch your dressing or wounds
  • when your hands are visibly dirty
  • before you leave your room

You can also remind all staff and visitors to practice good hand hygiene before and after entering your room.

What will happen at home?

If you have MRSA when you are discharged from the hospital, the chance of spreading the germ to your family is small. However, it would help if you still practiced the following:

  • Tell everyone helping you with your personal hygiene or with going to the toilet to wash their hands after contact with you.
  • Wash your hands before you make any food and before you eat. Everyone should follow this practice in the household.
  • Wash your hands well after using the toilet. Make sure others using the bathroom also wash their hands well afterwards.

Other tips:

  • Clothing may be laundered with the rest of the household laundry.
  • No special cleaning of furniture or items in the home (e.g. dishes) is required.

Always tell your physician, paramedics, nurses or other care providers that you have MRSA. This helps prevent the spread to others.