Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
What is MRSA?
MRSA stands for methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that has developed a resistance to most antibiotics commonly used for staphylococcus infections. These drugs include:
- Other beta-lactams
What is the reservoir for MRSA?
MRSA can affect people in two different ways:
When a person carries the bacteria on the skin or in the nose without showing signs or symptoms of infection, the person is considered to be colonized.
If a person has signs of infection that are caused by MRSA the person is considered to be infected.
Signs of infection that are caused by MRSA include:
- Wound infections
- Respiratory infections
- Blood, stool or urinary tract infections
How does MRSA spread from person to person?
MRSA most often spreads from person to person by direct contact. For example, in medical settings MRSA is spread most commonly from patient to patient by healthcare workers’ hands.
How can you stop the spread of MRSA?
The single most effective way to prevent the spread of infection is by proper handwashing, i.e. lathering with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and rinsing with warm running water. Hands should be washed both before and after contact with a patient.
Other measures include:
- Use protective equipment to avoid contact with another person’s body fluids
- Gloves should be worn for all dressing changes
- Protective equipment should be disposed of after use
- Hands must be washed after removing the protective equipment
- Separate clean and dirty linen
Follow a schedule for daily environmental cleaning including disinfection of bedrails, IV stands and telephones. Observe the isolation procedures of your facility.
Is MRSA more of a concern than other infections?
The answer is both yes and no. MRSA is not a“super bug” and is no more virulent than Staphylococcus aureus. However, all infections are of concern to healthcare workers and patients.
MRSA is of particular importance because infections caused by MRSA are very difficult to treat. Typically, MRSA infections are treated intravenously with a drug called vancomycin. The side effects of this drug may be quite severe, particularly in elderly or immunodeficient patients.
Additionally, patients with invasive devices such as catheters, nasogastric or gastrostomic tubes, or with intravenous lines are much more likely to acquire infections, including MRSA.
What can be done to prevent the spread of MRSA?
- Educate the patient if possible about his/her condition.
- Follow Universal Precautions. Keep draining lesions covered.
- If possible, use staffing cohorts to take care of patients with MRSA. If private rooms are not available, cohort patients with MRSA. Ensure that a patient with MRSA infection does not share a room with a patient who is predisposed to infection, as described above.
Where can I get more information?
Contact the director of Nursing or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.
Updated on: August 21, 2018