Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus is a bacterium that periodically lives on the skin and mucous membranes of healthy people. Occasionally S. aureus can cause an infection. When S. aureus develops resistance to the beta lactam class of antibiotics, it is called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does MRSA always cause an infection?
Colonization occurs when bacteria are present on or in the body without causing illness. MRSA can colonize the nose, skin and moist areas of the body.

Infection occurs when bacteria get past the person’s normal defenses and cause disease (e.g. skin bacteria getting into the bloodstream via an intravenous catheter). Infections with MRSA may be minor, such as pimples and boils, but serious infections may also occur, such as surgical wound infections and pneumonia.

What are the risk factors for MRSA?
Risk factors for MRSA acquisition includes invasive procedures, history of antibiotic use, prolonged hospital stay, stay in an intensive care or burn unit, surgical wound infection and close proximity to another person with MRSA.

How will your doctor know if you have MRSA?
All patients that are admitted to hospital are screened for MRSA if they have recently been in another health care facility or communal residence. Screening involves swabs, with a large Q-tip, the inside of the nose, rectum and any open wounds.

How is MRSA treated?
Treatment for MRSA depends if you are just colonized with MRSA or have an infection. Although we do have a standard protocol for treatment, your doctor is the most qualified to decide what is the best for you.

How is MRSA spread?
MRSA is spread from one person to another by contact, usually on the hands of caregivers. MRSA can be present on the caregiver’s hands either from touching contaminated material excreted by the infected person or from touching articles contaminated by the skin of a person with MRSA, such as towels, sheets, wound dressings.

How is the infection controlled within the hospital?
A number of practices are in place to control the spread of MRSA that includes:

  • Screening all patients with risk factors for MRSA.
  • Placing patients with MRSA in a single room.
  • Individuals entering a room of a patient with MRSA must wear personal protective attire that includes gloves and long sleeve gowns.
  • To keep everyone’s hands clean, alcohol hand wash is located outside all patient rooms.
  • Enhance environmental cleaning is done in rooms of patients with MRSA.

Rate of infection

MRSA can be acquired within the hospital (HA) or from the community (CA). The rate of MRSA infection is calculated as a rate per 1000 patient days. The rate is calculated by taking the total number of new HA cases each month and dividing by the total number of patient days each month multiplied by 1000. The total patient days represents a sum of the number of days during which services were provided to all inpatients during that given time period.