What is Staphylococcus aureus?
Staphylococcus aureus is a common type of bacterium that is found in humans, animals, and the environment. About a third of people carry this bacterium, usually in the nose and the skin, particularly moist areas such as the underarm and groin. The bacteria are harmless if they remain in these sites, and most people who carry the bacteria do not experience any abnormal symptoms. Occasionally, the bacteria can enter the body, through breaks in the skin or through use of medical devices, and cause infections. These infections can be treated with the right antibiotics.
What is MRSA?
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a type of Staphylococcus aureus that has developed resistance to methicillin and other types of antibiotics. This means that these antibiotics can no longer be used to treat MRSA infections. MRSA can be found in patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. It can also be found in people in the community.
How does MRSA spread from person to person?
Most people who carry MRSA are perfectly healthy. However, they can still pass on the bacteria to others. This could be either by direct contact, such as touching with the hands, or indirect contact, such as touching taps, handles, railings or other surfaces, where the bacteria can survive and be passed on to other people.
How can I help prevent the spread of MRSA?
MRSA is easily killed with proper use of soap and detergents. Good personal hygiene, such as handwashing, is the most important measure to avoid spreading and contracting MRSA. If you provide care for a person with MRSA:
Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after physical contact with the person
Make sure you cover any cuts on your skin with waterproof dressings
Ensure that the area around the person, such as the bedroom, is cleaned regularly with detergents
Try to avoid sharing personal items and utensils with other family members
If you are in good health and work outside healthcare settings, the risk of getting an MRSA infection is very low.