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MRSA. MRSA stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. Staphylococcus aureus (SA) is a common type of bacteria that can live harmlessly on the skin

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MRSA Introduction MRSA stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. Staphylococcus aureus (SA) is a common type of bacteria that can live harmlessly on the skin but sometimes it can cause a number of common infections such as boils, impetigo and wound infections. Methicillin (a type of penicillin) is an antibiotic drug. MRSA includes several strains (types) of the SA germ that are not killed by the usual antibiotics. Antibiotics have been very successful in killing many germs. However, germs that are not killed by antibiotics have survived and multiplied. If you are on a course of antibiotics but do not complete it, it is likely that not all the germs will be killed, and then those that survive will develop a resistance to the drug. As more antibiotics are used, more strains of germs that are able to resist them have developed. Around 40% of cases of SA in the UK are resistant to methicillin and other antibiotics. These are the ones called MRSA. These types of SA tend to be more common in hospital, because people are more susceptible to infections when they are already unwell. Antibiotics aren't completely powerless against MRSA. The infection may simply require a much higher dose over a much longer period, or the use of an alternative antibiotic to which the germ has less resistance. The long-term risk of SA is the chance that it may become resistant to all antibiotic drugs. For this reason it is important that antibiotics are only used when necessary and the full course of a drug is taken when it has been prescribed. Symptoms Staphylococcus aureus is quite common: around 30% of people carry the germ in their nose or on their skin (this is often referred to as being 'colonised' with the germ). SA and MRSA are not normally a risk to healthy people and the majority of people colonised with SA do not have any symptoms and aren't aware they are carrying the germ. ...read more.


For example, blood poisoning (septicaemia), lung infection (pneumonia), bone infection (osteomyelitis), heart valve infection (endocarditis), etc. These serious infections are more likely to occur in people who are already unwell or debilitated, or who have a poor immune system. These infections need to be treated with antibiotics. What is MRSA? MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. There are various sub-types (strains) of S. aureus and some strains are classed as MRSA. MRSA strains are very similar to any other strain of S.aureus. That is, some healthy people are carriers, and some people develop the types of infections described above. The difference is that, most S. aureus infections can be treated with commonly used antibiotics. In recent years some strains of S. aureus have become resistant to some antibiotics. 'Resistance' means that it is not killed by the antibiotic. MRSA strains are not only resistant to the antibiotic called methicillin, but also to many other types of antibiotics. How serious is an MRSA infection? MRSA strains of bacteria are no more aggressive or infectious than other strains of S. aureus. However, infections are much more difficult to treat because many antibiotics do not work. Therefore, infections tend to become more severe than they may otherwise have been if the cause of the infection is not diagnosed early, and antibiotics that do not work are given at first. Who gets MRSA? MRSA occurs most commonly in people who are already in hospital. People who are more prone to it are those who are very ill, or have wounds or open sores such as bed-sores or burns. The wounds or sores may become infected with MRSA and the infection is then difficult to treat. Infections which start in the skin may spread to cause more serious infections. Also, urinary catheters and tubes going into veins or parts of the body ('drips' etc) are sometimes contaminated by MRSA and can lead to urine or blood infection. ...read more.


If the organism is in the nose or lungs it may also be necessary to have the patient in a room to prevent spread to others by droplet spread. Because dust and surfaces can become contaminated with the organism, cleaning of surfaces are also important. This usually occurs after the patient leaves the hospital. If a number of patients are infected with the same organism it is possible to nurse them in the same area. On occasions for the sake of other patients it may be necessary to move carriers of MRSA to an isolation unit such as ours which specializes in isolating all types of infections to protect other persons. The medical care of such patients will continue in an isolation unit which are well used to caring for all types of medical and surgical problems associated with infections. What do visitors need to do? Provided relatives and friends of patients with MRSA are healthy there is no restriction on visiting and it carries no risk. Visitors are not required to wear special clothing BUT we would ask you to help us prevent this organism spreading around our hospital by keeping the patients' door closed at all times and always washing your hands whenever you leave the room. What about MRSA at home? In patients who are otherwise well the organisms often disappear once the patient leaves the hospital. Sometimes they do not however, and this may mean that when a patient has to go back into hospital the isolation precautions need to be used again. Provided everyone at home is healthy special precautions are not required at home. What can be done about MRSA? In certain situations it may be a good idea to try to get rid of the organism from a patient and this can be done with various creams and shampoos or on occasions combinations of antibiotics taken by mouth or by injection depending on the health of the patient. ...read more.

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