With the recent media coverage regarding MRSA and CA-MRSA, the Ohio Department of Health has printed the following information for community education. If you have any questions about you or your children or other families concerning MRSA, please contact your physician.

What is Staphylococcus aureus (staph)?

Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as “staph,” are bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Approximately 25% to 30% of the population is colonized (when bacteria are present, but not causing an infection) in the nose with staph bacteria. Sometimes, staph can cause an infection. Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infections in the United States. Most of these skin infections are minor (such as pimples and boils) and can possibly be treated without antibiotics (also known as antimicrobials or antibacterials). However, staph bacteria also can cause serious infections (such as surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia).

What is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)?

Some staph bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. MRSA is a type of staph that is resistant to certain antibiotics.

Who gets staph or MRSA infections?

Staph infections, including MRSA, occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities (such as nursing homes and dialysis centers) who have weakened immune systems. These healthcare-associated staph infections include frequent hospitalizations, chronic renal failure, diabetes, surgical wound infections, urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, malignancies, HIV and pneumonia.

What is community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA)?

Staph and MRSA can also cause illness in persons outside of hospitals and healthcare facilities. MRSA infections that are acquired by persons who have not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized nor had a medical procedure (such as dialysis, surgery, catheters) are known as CA-MRSA infections. Staph or MRSA infections in the community are usually manifested as skin infections, such as pimples and boils, and occur in otherwise healthy people.

What does a staph or MRSA infection look like?

Staph bacteria, including MRSA, can cause skin infections that may look like a pimple, boil, or spider/insect bites. It can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or surgical wound infections.

Are certain people at increased risk for community-associated staph or MRSA infections?

Factors that have been associated with the spread of MRSA skin infections include: close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions, and poor hygiene.

How can I prevent staph or MRSA skin infections? Practice good hygiene:

  1. Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with warm soap and water for 15-20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Keep wounds, cuts, and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
  3. Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
  4. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
  5. Use a barrier (e.g. clothing or a towel) between your skin and shared fitness equipment.
  6. Wipe surfaces of fitness equipment before and after use.

Are staph and MRSA infections treatable?

Yes. Most staph and MRSA infections are treatable with antibiotics. If you are given an antibiotic, take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless your doctor tells you to stop taking it. Do not share antibiotics with other people or save unfinished antibiotics to use at another time.

However, some staph skin infections may be treated by draining the abscess or boil and may not require antibiotics. Drainage of skin boils or abscesses should only be done by a healthcare provider.

If, after visiting your healthcare provider, the infection is not getting better after a few days, contact them again. If other people you know or live with get the same infection tell them to go to their healthcare provider.

Is it possible that my staph or MRSA skin infection will come back after it is cured?

Yes. It is possible to have a staph or MRSA skin infection come back (recur) after it is cured. To prevent this from happening, follow your healthcare provider’s direction while you have the infection, and follow the prevention steps after the infection is gone.

If I have a staph, or MRSA skin infection, what can I do to prevent others from getting infected?

You can prevent spreading staph or MRSA skin infections to others by following these steps:

  1. Cover your wound. Keep wounds that are draining or have pus covered with clean, dry bandages, this includes any open skin area such as abrasions or cuts. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on proper care of the wound. Pus from infected wounds can contain staph and MRSA, so keeping the infection covered will help prevent the spread to others. Bandages or tape can be discarded with the regular trash.
  2. Clean your hands. You, your family, and others in close contact should wash their hands frequently with soap (such as Dial or Hibiclens) and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (such as Purell) especially after changing the bandage or touching the infected wound.
  3. Do not share personal items. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, washcloths, razors, clothing, or uniforms that may have had contact with the infected wound or bandage.
  4. Separate soiled laundry. Wash sheets, towels, and clothes that become soiled with hot water and laundry detergent. Drying clothes in a hot dryer is best, rather than air-drying because it helps kill bacteria in clothes; but if a dryer is not available, air-drying is acceptable.
  5. Talk to your doctor. Tell any healthcare providers who treat you that you have or had a staph or MRSA skin infection.

What should I do if someone I know has a staph or MRSA infection?

If you know someone that has a staph or MRSA infection you should follow the six prevention steps as listed on page one.

Provided by the Allen County Antibiotic Resistance Task Force