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(mrsa) Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus


MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a strain of staph bacteria that can cause infection. Staph bacteria are normal on your skin and in your nose. They do not usually cause infection. The bacteria can cause an infection if they get inside your body through a break in your skin. Usually, antibiotics are used to kill bacteria. MRSA bacteria are resistant to the common antibiotics used to treat Staph infections. MRSA infections are most common as skin infections. You can also have MRSA bacteria in your blood, lungs, heart, and bone.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You develop new symptoms such as a cough or fever during or after treatment for MRSA infection.

  • Your symptoms get worse.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have been exposed to MRSA.

  • Your symptoms do not get better within 2 days of treatment.

  • Your symptoms return after treatment.

  • You have questions and concerns about your condition or care.


You may need the following:

  • Antibiotics that are effective against your MRSA infection may be given. You may need to use antibiotics for weeks or even months to treat some MRSA infections.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or infectious disease specialist within 2 days or as directed:

You may need an exam or more tests to make sure your infection is healing. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Prevent the spread of MRSA:

  • Wash your hands often. This is the most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of infection. Wash your hands several times each day especially before and after you change your bandage. Carry germ-killing gel with you and use it to clean your hands when you have no soap and water. Encourage everyone in your house to wash their hands with soap and water after they use the bathroom. Everyone should also wash their hands before they prepare or eat food.

  • Do not touch sores. Do not poke or squeeze sores. This can make the infection go deeper into your tissue.

  • Cover infected sores with a bandage. Put an extra dressing on a sore that is draining. This helps keep drainage off surfaces that others can touch.

  • Do not play contact sports until your infection has healed. Bandages can come off during these sports and your infection may touch people and equipment. Also, do not use public gyms, pools, hot tubs, or saunas until your sores have healed. Do not get manicures, massages, or haircuts until the sores are healed. MRSA bacteria can stay on objects and surfaces for long periods of time.

  • Be careful when you are around people with weak immune systems. It will be easier for your infection to spread to them. This includes very young children, older adults, and people with chronic health conditions.

MRSA and your home:

MRSA can stay on surfaces for weeks. It is important to keep others safe by doing the following:

  • Wear disposable gloves. Use disposable gloves while cleaning, changing your bandage, and handling dirty laundry. Throw away gloves after you use them. Put a new pair with each task. Never use the same pair of gloves.

  • Clean surfaces daily. Items that you use often should be cleaned daily, such as phones, doorknobs, and remote controls. Clean the shower or bathtub after each use.

  • Use a bleach-based cleaner. You can also create a cleaning solution by mixing 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.

  • Wash dishes and silverware in a dishwasher or in hot water. Do not share unwashed dishes or silverware with anyone.

  • Change your clothes daily. Do not put on clothes you have already worn, until they have been washed.

  • Hold dirty laundry away from your body and your clothes. Wear disposable gloves when you handle dirty laundry. Wash dirty laundry with warm or hot water. Use bleach when possible. Put dirty laundry in the washer immediately. Put it in a plastic bag if you are not able to wash it immediately. Remove gloves and wash your hands before you handle clean laundry. Dry laundry completely in a warm or hot dryer.

MRSA and your pets:

Your dogs and cats can have a MRSA infection. They can also be carriers of MRSA infection. You may need to get your pet tested if you keep getting skin sores. Talk to your vet about testing your pet for MRSA bacteria. Keep children away from pets with sores until the sores heal. Do not touch your pet's sores without wearing disposable gloves. You do not have to get rid of your pet. He can be treated if he has MRSA infection.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.