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MRSA (meticillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) is a bacteria or germ quite commonly found on the skin or in the nose. Sometimes MRSA causes infections and these can be more difficult to treat as MRSA is resistant to and cannot be treated with some of the usual antibiotics.


MRSA can live on people who are healthy and have no symptoms. This is called colonisation the person is a carrier of MRSA. It is usually found by taking a screen. This is a swab from your nose, groin and/or skin, a sample of urine or sputum. These will then be sent to the laboratory to be tested.

MRSA testing

People are tested if they need to come into hospital for most planned surgery or if they are admitted to hospital for other reasons. This gives the chance to treat the germ and prevent infections.


Colonisation cannot always be eradicated but skin washes and nasal ointment can suppress the germ significantly and reduce the risk during hospital admission.


For planned admissions screening is carried out in advance to give time for a course of suppression to be used before the admission date. With unplanned admissions screens are taken on the first day and suppression begins as soon as a positive result is known.

Risks from MRSA

The risk to a carrier is greater in hospital where surgery or treatment, which breaks the skin or uses tubes or lines, can allow the germ to enter the body and even the bloodstream. Some hospital treatment reduces the ability of the body to protect itself from infection. MRSA is not a risk to healthy people.

People with MRSA are not a risk to visitors or family members (including children and pregnant women). It is not usually necessary for visitors to wear gloves and aprons. Hands should always be washed before leaving. Visitors who are not in good health, should ask the nurses to help decide how to visit safely.


Sometimes people with MRSA are given a single room. This is more likely to happen if other patients on the ward are very sick or are having high risk surgery. The door is a barrier that reminds everyone to follow all the rules to prevent spreading germs. The room should be kept free from clutter to help with cleaning.

You will be able to leave the room for treatment and you may be able to visit shared areas if you have had your wash, put on clean clothes and all wounds are covered. Please check with staff as rules may be different in some areas.

Going home

Your hospital stay should not be any longer due to MRSA colonisation. If you have an infection you may need further treatment, usually antibiotics, before you are ready to leave.

Further precautions at home if you have MRSA

MRSA should not affect any aspects of your normal lifestyle, nor any activities you are involved in. Often no further treatment is needed on your discharge from hospital.

Remember to mention any MRSA history to anyone who may need to prescribe antibiotics for you for any reason and to anyone who needs to carry out treatment which may break the skin or insert a needle, tube or line.

If you have a wound or a medical device, closely follow instructions from the person monitoring you (district, practice or clinic nurse). Avoid touching your wound or devices such as catheters. If it is necessary to touch them, wash your hands before and after.

Wash linen and towels in the normal way. If you still need to have dressings at home it may be necessary to arrange for the council to collect your medical waste, ask your district nurse. To reduce the amount of dust in the environment, dust and vacuum the house regularly.

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