Frequently asked questions about Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) blood stream infections

Can someone die from MRSA?

Most people do not die if they are infected with MRSA. However in severe cases of MRSA bacteremia, death can occur. This is uncommon and tends to occur in those people with other severe health problems. The vast majority of people recover from MRSA, once their health is restored.

What is the treatment for MRSA?

If a patient is carrying MRSA, generally no treatment is necessary, as the organism is not causing an illness and often will be cleared on its own when the person’s health is restored. If it is determined that the patient is infected (they have a blood infection, skin infection or wound infection etc.) then the patient will treated with the appropriate antibiotic as determined by a physician.

How is MRSA found?

Swabs are performed when patients are admitted to the hospital and periodically for patients whom are at risk. The swabs are sent to the laboratory for analysis and if positive, the laboratory notifies infection prevention and control so that the patient can be placed on Contact Precautions.

What Contact Precautions are used to limit the spread of MRSA?

Contact Precautions aim to limit the spread of MRSA to other patients and to health care providers. You may be placed in a private room or with other patients who are also carrying the bacteria. A sign may be placed on your door to remind others who enter your room about these special contact precautions. Those caring for you as well as visitors will be asked to clean their hands, gown and glove before entering your room. Everyone who enters and leaves your room must clean their hands well. The room and equipment in the room will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

What precautions are used to prevent the spread of MRSA in the hospital?

Because MRSA is spread from one person to another by contact, hand hygiene is critical to preventing its spread in a health-care setting. KGH actively conducts regular surveillance to find cases of MRSA infection and to identify carriers of MRSA. If a patient is positive for MRSA they are placed on Contact Precautions.

How is MRSA spread?

MRSA is spread from one person to another by contact, usually on the hands of caregivers. MRSA can be present on the health care provider’s hands either from touching contaminated material from infected persons or from touching articles contaminated by a person carrying MRSA, such as towels, sheets and wound dressings. MRSA can live on hands and objects in the environment for extended periods of time.

Who is at risk of contracting MRSA?

Risk factors for MRSA infections include invasive procedures, prior treatment with antibiotics, prolonged hospital stay, stay in an intensive care or burn unit, surgical wound infection and close proximity to someone who is carrying MRSA. 

What is a bacteremia?

A bacteremia is the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream and is referred to as a bloodstream infection.

What is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)?

Staphylococcus aureus is a germ that lives on the skin and mucous membranes of healthy people. Occasionally, Staphylococcus aureus is a  cause of human infection. When Staphylococcus aureus develops resistance to certain antibiotics, it is called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA.

Where can I get more information about this and other Patient Safety Indicators?