Ten Facts About MRSA

Better known by the acronym MRSA, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a strain of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria which can cause a number of infections in humans.

Although it might not be as prevalent in the news as often as it was around 10 years ago, MRSA may still make the headlines when an outbreak occurs in hospitals or in the food sector.

Read on for 10 facts about MRSA…


1. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 people harmlessly carry S. aureus on their skin and in their nose and mouth, with 1 in 10 of these people carrying the MRSA strain.  This equates to around 2 million people in the UK.


2. There are 16 identified endemic strains of MRSA, with the most common ones found in the UK being EMRSA15 and EMRSA16.


3. People who carry the bacteria will not usually show any symptoms, although skin problems like boils and abscesses will develop if an infection arises which can take a long time to heal properly or, in some cases, not at all.


4. MRSA can cause an infection in people who have weakened immune systems, have been in hospital for a long time or have an open wound or existing skin infection.


5. If a patient contracts a blood infection the implications can be more serious, affecting vital organs and potentially leading to blood poisoning, pneumonia and internal abscesses.


6. In general, carriers of MRSA don’t require treatment but might be prescribed treatment like antiseptic soap or shampoo to remove it from skin and hair before a stay in hospital.  More serious cases are treated with antibiotics but not with ease.


7. Between 1993-2002 mortality rates for deaths related to MRSA increased over 15-fold, although improved standards in hospital hygiene in the UK since 2002 have improved this significantly.


8. The best way of preventing the spread of MRSA in hospitals is to make sure that your hands, body and bed areas are kept clean, don’t touch wounds or skin infections without wearing protecting gloves and make sure you wash and dry your hands thoroughly afterwards.


9. Follow the same tips to prevent MRSA spreading at home making sure you don’t share towels or items like toothbrushes.  Washing laundry at the highest temperature recommended as 65C for 10 minutes can kill MRSA bacteria.


10. It’s also a good idea to keep your fingernails short and clean, cover up any wounds and avoid wearing jewellery and watches.


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Image: CDC

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