MRSA FAQs

Have you been diagnosed with a Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA infection?

Below are answers to some common questions...

What is Staphylococcus aureus or Staph?

Staphylococcus aureus or Staph is a type of bacteria. It may cause skin infections that look like pimples or boils. Skin infections caused by Staph may be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. Some Staph (known as Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA) are resistant to certain antibiotics, making them harder to treat.

Who gets Staph infections?

Anyone can get a Staph infection. People are more likely to get a Staph infection if they have:

  • Skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a Staph infection
  • Contact with items and surfaces that have Staph on them
  • Openings in their skin such as cuts or scrapes
  • Crowded living conditions
  • Poor hygiene
  • Are involved in group athletics

Staph may often be associated with stays in a hospital or other medical facility. MRSA related to a stay in a hospital is considered HA-MRSA or hospital acquired MRSA.

Recently a new MRSA strain has been identified known as CA-MRSA, or community acquired MRSA which is not associated with hospital stays, but is associated with athletic teams, gyms, day-care centers, and group living.

How serious are Staph infections?

Most Staph skin infections are minor and may be easily treated. But, Staph may also cause more serious infections, such as infections of the bloodstream, surgical sites, or pneumonia. Sometimes, a Staph infection that starts as a skin infection may worsen. It is important to contact your doctor if your infection does not get better.

How are Staph infections treated?

Treatment for a Staph skin infection may include taking an antibiotic or having a doctor drain the infection. If you are given an antibiotic, be sure to take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless your doctor tells you to stop taking it. Do not share antibiotics with other people or save them to use later.

How do I keep Staph infections from spreading?

  • Wash your hands often with soap or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Keep your cuts and scrapes clean and cover them with bandages
  • Do not touch other people's cuts or bandages
  • Do not share personal items like towels or razors
  • Use bleach (1:100 or 1 Tablespoon per quart) when washing sheets and towels, especially if someone in the family suffers from a staph infection.

What happens if I have a Staph infection and it is MRSA and I am admitted to the hospital?

If you are admitted to the hospital and have MRSA or a history of MRSA, you may be placed in a private room in contact precautions. This is to prevent the spread of the infection to other patients. Your nurse and doctor will wear a gown and gloves to treat you. You should make sure everyone washes their hands before doing any procedure and before putting on gloves. You should make sure your family and friends also wash their hands, and wear the gown and gloves when they come to see you and wash their hands before leaving your room. Occasionally, if you have a cough or pneumonia, the staff may wear masks. Staph infections spread easily if hands are not properly washed.

What happens if I have a Staph infection and it is MRSA and I am admitted to the hospital for joint surgery?

The Joint Replacement Center at Union Hospital provides MRSA screening and follows our orthopedic physician recommendations to help prevent a surgical site infection related to MRSA. Once you arrive for Joint Camp Day the staff will give you instructions on what to do next.

First, the screening process begins with a nasal swab culture at Joint Camp Day which is scheduled weeks before your surgery. The results of your culture will be obtained in 48 hours and you will be notified of the results. If the culture is positive you will use the prescription given to you at Joint Camp Day for an antibiotic ointment called Bactroban. You will also be given instructions on how to cleanse your skin. If your nasal swab culture was positive, you will be placed in a private room in contact precautions when you are admitted for your surgery. This is to prevent the spread of the infection to other patients. What this means is that your nurse and doctor will wear a gown and gloves to treat you. You should make sure everyone washes their hands before doing any procedure and before putting on gloves. You should make sure your family and friends also wash their hands, and wear the gown and gloves when they come to see you and wash their hands before leaving your room.

Can I ever get rid of Staph or MRSA?

If you have had a Staph infection your doctor may order a nasal swab culture to see if the bacteria is still present. The bacteria like to live in the nose. It usually takes several months to get rid of Staph in the nose, so several nasal swab cultures may be done to determine if you have become negative.

If you have any questions about your condition, please ask your doctor or your health care provider.

For more information, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_mrsa.html. Or just Google MRSA.

Putting You First.