- What you should know about Staph and MRSA
- Information for Parents
- Information for Educators and Child Care Providers
- Information for Health Care Settings
- Additional Resources
- Health Department Advisories
What you should know about MRSA and Staph
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics called beta-lactams. These antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin. In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections. (CDC)
- MRSA is a type of staph infection that has become resistant to some antibiotics.
- MRSA infections can be mild or very serious
- MRSA infection is preventable and treatable.
- Staphylococcus aureus (known as staph) is a very common bacterium that can live on the skin or in the noses of healthy people.
- Staph is a common cause of skin lesions, including pimples and boils.
- Staph can sometimes lead to more serious infections in the skin and other sites on the body.
- Some staph infections are harder to treat because the bacteria have become resistant over time to the antibiotics usually used to treat these infections.
MRSA in a community is different than in a health care setting
- MRSA is rarely serious when contracted in the community setting, where it typically appears as an easily treatable skin infection.
- MRSA acquired in the hospital or health care setting is a different strain and more serious than MRSA acquired in the community.
- MRSA infection can be life-threatening to older people and those with weakened immune systems.
- Patients in hospitals, nursing homes and health care facilities such as dialysis centers are most at risk for serious infection when open wounds, burns or tubes inserted in their bodies provide a pathway for infection to be carried through the bloodstream and internal organs.
MRSA is preventable and treatable
- MRSA is spread through breaks in the skin, by skin to skin contact or, less often, by touching surfaces that have MRSA on them.
- Simple measures can be taken to prevent MRSA infections:
- wash hands often and well
- shower after exercise
- cover cuts, scrapes and wounds with bandages until healed
- don't share personal items such as used razors, towels or other objects that could pass bacteria from one person's skin to another
- place barriers between skin and shared equipment like weightlifting benches, and sanitize frequently touched surfaces.
- MRSA can be diagnosed only through a laboratory test. If you think you have an infected wound, see your health care provider.
- MRSA infections are treatable. Treatment depends on the site of the infection and the severity of the infection. Not all infections require oral antibiotics.
MRSA infections can be very mild or very serious, but MRSA acquired in the hospital or health care setting is a different strain and more serious than MRSA acquired in the community – at home, at school or day care, etc. MRSA rarely causes serious illness when acquired in the community.
MRSA is treatable and, like other bacterial infections, simple precautions will help prevent infection:
- Clean wounds and cover them with a clean, dry bandage. Wounds that do not heal properly need medical attention. The only way to determine if an infection is caused by MRSA is through laboratory testing ordered by a physician or other health care provider.
- Teach children to wash their hands regularly, such as before eating and after toileting.
- Be sure family members use antibiotics properly. Take all that are prescribed, even if the symptoms stop before the prescription is used up. Do not share prescriptions.
- Children should wash their hands before and after eating, after toileting, and after playing. They should not share equipment, clothing, towels, or other personal items.
- Wash clothes and towels with hot water and detergent.
Podcast: "What You Can Do To Protect Yourself And Your Family"
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Observe children for open wounds. If any wounds are draining or contain pus, refer the child to the school nurse.
- Encourage hand washing before eating and after toileting.
- Coaches should ensure that athletes wash their hands, cover their wounds, and not share personal items and towels.
Public Health Reporting
- Suspected outbreaks of staph infections should be reported to the district health office. Check here for a listing of district health offices.
- Health department staff may be able to provide additional guidance in identifying causes of transmission, and recommendations for reducing the risk to children and staff.
Resources & Toolkits
- Prevention of MRSA Infections in Healthcare Settings (CDC)
- Toolkit for Outpatient Clinics
- Publication: Living with MRSA
This booklet is available in hard copy to providers.
To request copies contact the Department of Health.
Journals Articles and Related News Stories
New England Journal of Medicine: MRSA Prevention in Healthcare Facilities
- Veterans Affairs Initiative to Prevent Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infections
- Intervention to Reduce Transmission of Resistant Bacteria in Intensive Care
- NEJM Editorial: Time for a Culture Change?
Study Finds Drop in Deadly V.A. Hospital Infections - New York Times 04/13/2011 (subscription may be needed to view)
Preventing Infections in Healthcare Settings
CDC’s Safe Healthcare blog is hosting a three-part commentary with the NEJM reports' lead authors and CDC’s Dr. John Jernigan
Living with MRSA - 10 pgs 2.5 MB (booklet format)
- Living with MRSA - 20 pgs 4.8 MB (single pages format)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Resources about MRSA for communities and health care providers and facilities, including fact sheets and other information materials.
- MRSA Toolkit
- For Middle and High Schools
- For Elementary Schools
- For Childcare Centers
- For Outpatient Clinics