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Frequently asked questions about M.R.S.A.: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help


If you have been told that you have "M.R.S.A." Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus these notes may help you to understand what is meant by this and answer some of your questions.

What Is It and What Can It Do?

It is a germ that may be harmlessly carried by many people on their skin and in their noses without causing an infection. It is carried more easily on skin that is broken, for example where there is a rash, a cut or a sore. It can, however, cause abscesses, boils and wound infections, particularly in people who are already unwell.

Why Is It Important?

Special care is taken with M.R.S.A. germs when they are found on patients in hospital because the germs are resistant to treatment with some antibiotics and may be more difficult to treat if they do cause an infection.

How Does M.R.S.A. Spread?

The germs can spread easily from one patient to another by sticking to the hands or clothes of staff or patients and then passing to the next person they touch. Careful hand washing by the staff and patients is important and helps to prevent the germ spreading.

How Can You Tell Who Has The M.R.S.A.?

Patients with M.R.S.A. do not look or feel different, so it can only be found by growing the germ from swabs taken from skin and wounds.

Where Did It Come From?

The M.R.S.A. may have been on your skin when you came into hospital, or you may have picked it up since you have been in hospital.

What Will Happen To You Now?

When the M.R.S.A. germ has been found on your skin, the Infection Control Nurse will advise staff to take swabs from your body to see whether the germ is just in one or two places or if it is widespread.

How Can You Get Rid Of It?

Your doctor may give you antiseptic to put in the bath or washing water, cream to put on your nose and on sores, and if you have an infection with the germ, some antibiotics.

Can I Stay On The Same Ward?

You may be asked to move to a single room while you are receiving treatment. This makes it easier to stop the germ being passed to other patients. You may be asked to move to another ward if a single room on your ward is not available.

Can You Have Visitors?

You can have visitors as usual. They may be asked to wash their hands after visiting you so that they do not spread the germ around. They will not be ill if they do pick up the germ as long as they are healthy. If in any doubt, discuss this with the nursing staff.

How Long Does The Treatment Take?

After a week the swabs will be taken again to check that the germ has gone. Sometimes it may take several weeks to completely clear the germ from your skin. If you are sent home in the meantime, you will be told whether further treatment is needed.

Will It Prevent Me Leaving Hospital?

No. You will be sent home as usual, with or without the M.R.S.A., unless it is causing an infection.

Do I Need Treatment At Home?

Only if you have an infection with the M.R.S.A. Your GP and district Nurse will be able to treat you. We will tell them about the problem when you leave hospital.

Will The M.R.S.A. Harm My Friends and Family?

Not if they are healthy. Ask your doctor or the Infection Control Nurse if you are not sure.