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MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
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.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You develop new symptoms such as a cough or fever during or after treatment for MRSA infection.
- Your symptoms get worse.
Call your doctor if:
- 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 may help treat a bacterial infection. You may need to take antibiotics for weeks to months. Take all of your antibiotics until they are finished.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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.
Prevent the spread of MRSA:
Do the following if you have an active MRSA infection:
- Wash your hands often. Wash your hands several times each day. Wash after you use the bathroom, change a child's diaper, and before you prepare or eat food. Use soap and water every time. Rub your soapy hands together, lacing your fingers. Wash the front and back of your hands, and in between your fingers. Use the fingers of one hand to scrub under the fingernails of the other hand. Wash for at least 20 seconds. Rinse with warm, running water for several seconds. Then dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel. Use hand sanitizer that contains alcohol if soap and water are not available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands first.
- 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. Make sure the sore is completely covered during activities that may cause skin to skin contact with another person. Examples include sports such as wrestling or football. Put an extra bandage on a sore that is draining fluid. This helps keep infected drainage off surfaces that others can touch.
- Do not share personal items with others. This includes washcloths, towels, uniforms, clothes, and razors.
- Do not use public pools, hot tubs, or therapy pools until your infection has healed. Your infected sore can spread the infection to another person through the water.
- Tell all healthcare providers that you have a MRSA infection. If you are admitted to the hospital, you may be placed in a private room. Healthcare providers will wear gowns and gloves when they come into your room. They will also wash their hands often and clean your room well. Your visitors may also be asked to wear a gown and gloves. All of these practices help prevent the spread of MRSA to healthcare providers and other patients.
MRSA and your home:
MRSA can stay on surfaces for weeks. It is important to keep others safe by doing the following:
- Clean surfaces often. Use a disinfecting wipe, a single-use sponge, or a cloth you can wash and reuse. Use disinfecting cleaners if you do not have wipes. You can create a disinfecting cleaner by mixing 1 part bleach with 10 parts water. In the kitchen, clean countertops, cooking surfaces, and the fronts and insides of the microwave and refrigerator. In the bathroom, clean the toilet, the area around the toilet, the sink, the area around the sink, and faucets. Clean surfaces in the person's room, such as a desk or dresser.
- Wash dishes and silverware in a dishwasher or in hot water. Do not share unwashed dishes or silverware with anyone.
- Wash used sheets, towels, and clothes with water and laundry detergent. Put dirty laundry in the washer immediately. Put it in a plastic bag if you are not able to wash it immediately. You do no need to wash this laundry separately from other laundry. Use the warmest water possible for the type of clothing. Wash your hands after you touch dirty laundry and before you handle clean laundry. Dry laundry completely in a warm or hot dryer.
Apply a warm compress to small abscesses only if directed:
A warm compress will help the abscess drain. Wet a washcloth in warm, but not hot, water. Apply the compress for 10 minutes. Repeat this 4 times each day. Do not press on an abscess or try to open it with a needle. You may push the bacteria deeper or into your blood. If your abscess opens, keep it covered with a bandage at all times.
Follow up with your doctor within 2 days or as directed:
You may be referred to an infectious disease specialist. 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.
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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.
Learn more about MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) (Aftercare Instructions)
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