MRSA is a type of bacteria that is resistant to a number of widely used antibiotics. This means MRSA infections can be more difficult to treat than other bacterial infections.

The full name of MRSA is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. You may have heard it called a "superbug".

Staphylococcus aureus (also known as staph) is a common type of bacteria. It's often carried on the skin and inside the nostrils and throat, and can cause mild infections of the skin, such as boils and impetigo .

If the bacteria get into a break in the skin,they can cause life-threatening infections, such as blood poisoning or endocarditis.

However, MRSA still places a considerable strain on healthcare services.

Some people who need to be admitted to hospital will haveMRSA screening beforehand (see below), but there are also some things you can do yourself to reduce your risk of becoming infected. These include:

  • washing your hands frequentlyespeciallyafter using the toilet, and before and after eating
  • following any advice you're given about wound care and devices that could lead to infection (such as urinary catheters)
  • reporting any unclean toilet or bathroom facilities to staff don't be afraid to talk to staff if you're concerned about hygiene

If you're visiting someone in hospital, you can reduce the chance of spreading MRSA by cleaning your hands before and after entering the ward. You should also use hand wipes or hand gel before touching the person you're visiting.


Screening for MRSA

Somepatients admitted to hospital forplannedor emergency careare screened to see if they carry MRSA on their skin. This helps to reduce the chance of patients developing an MRSA infection or passing an infection on to other patients.

During the screening process,a cotton bud (swab) will be run over your skin, so it can be checked for MRSA bacteria. Swabs may be taken from different places, such as the inside of your nose, your throat, armpit, groin and any areas of damaged or open skin.

If MRSA bacteria are found, treatment with antibacterial bodywash or shampoo and nasal cream to remove the bacteria from your skin will usually need to be carried out before you're admitted.


Depending on the severity of your symptoms, antibiotic tablets or injections will be used and you may need to have a combination of antibiotics or take types of antibiotics that are rarely used for less serious infections.


Common questions about MRSA

  • How do bacteria become resistant to antibiotics?
  • Can someone with anMRSA infection have visitors?
  • What are the risks of MRSA during pregnancy?
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 29 Nov 2016