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MRSA information

MRSA stands for Meticillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. It is a form of a common germ called Staphylococcus aureus. This germ lives completely harmlessly in the nose and sometimes on the skin of about one third of people. It is more common on skin that is broken, such as with a cut, a sore or a skin disorder such as eczema. People who have MRSA on their bodies or in their noses, but who are unharmed by it are described as being colonised or carriers.

MRSA can cause problems when it is able to enter the body. This is more likely to occur in people who are already unwell. MRSA can cause abscesses, boils and can infect wounds. It can also infect breaks in the skin as a result of the placement of a drip or drain during medical treatment. The infection may then spread into the body and cause serious infections such as septicaemia (blood infection). MRSA is resistant to Meticillin (a type of penicillin) and to some of the other antibiotics that are commonly used to treat infections.

Q&A

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Infection Control

Lead Nurse Infection Prevention & Control

Base: Priestley Wharf

Telephone: 0121 466 6550 

Patients who have MRSA on their skin and up their noses do not look or feel different from other patients.  All patients admitted will undergo an MRSA screen.  Your nurse may take swabs from your skin or nose, or take samples of urine or sputum which are then sent to a laboratory. If the laboratory grows MRSA, it carries out further tests. The doctor uses the results of these tests to decide what treatment you may require.

It is never possible to be sure exactly how MRSA is acquired. MRSA is found in both hospitals and in the community. Most carriers of MRSA are not aware that they are carriers. Therefore you may have acquired MRSA before you came into hospital, or you may have acquired it in hospital.  Some people are more vulnerable to acquiring MRSA, i.e. those suffering from long standing illnesses who are frequently in contact with healthcare.

MRSA affects the way we look after patients as it is sensitive to antibiotics. Therefore, different antibiotics may be used for your treatment. Some of these may cause side effects more frequently than antibiotics used to treat other infections. We also take steps to reduce the risk of you developing MRSA infection and to prevent MRSA spreading to other patients.

If you have MRSA on your skin or in your nose, you will be given an antiseptic wash for your skin and antibiotic cream for up your nose.

If you have an infection such as an infected wound or a blood infection, you will be treated with antibiotics that kill MRSA. You may be moved to a single room or nursed with other patients with MRSA in order to prevent MRSA spreading to other patients in the ward who do not have MRSA.

MRSA does not harm healthy people, including pregnant women, children and babies. MRSA can affect people who have certain long-term health problems. Please ask the nursing staff first if someone who has a long-term health problem wants to visit you. Your visitors will not need to wear aprons and gloves when visiting you, but will need to wash their hands after visiting so that they do not spread MRSA to other people. Your visitors can take your clothes home to be washed. There are no problems with this as long as they are washed in a washing machine with detergent and if possible, tumble dried, then ironed.

Most patients who are colonised with MRSA do not usually have to stay longer in hospital. If you have an infection, you will have to stay in hospital until you are well enough to be discharged.

If you are colonised with MRSA, you may be treated with the antiseptic body wash and nose cream, particularly if you are likely to be re-admitted to hospital.

If you have an MRSA infection, you may need to continue antibiotics when you go home.

1.       The Association of Medical Microbiologists published a leaflet called “The Facts About MRSA”. A copy can be obtained from their website: www.amm.co.uk/html publications.htm

2.       Data on MRSA for England and Wales is available from the Health Protection Agency website: www.hpa.org.uk

3.       You can also visit the website: www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk

Essentially, your MRSA status will make no difference to your care as an outpatient. It may, however, be necessary to take more swabs to see if you are still carrying MRSA.