Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Frequently Asked Questions
It is the goal of Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters Health System (CHKDHS) to provide the best possible care for your family. Please read this information to learn about how you can help us prevent infections.
What is MRSA?
- Staphylococcus aureus (pronounced staff-ill-oh-KOK-us AW-ree-us), or “Staph” is a very common germ that about 1 out of every 3 people have on their skin or in their nose. This germ does not cause any problems for most people who have it on their skin. But sometimes it can cause serious infections such as skin or wound infections, pneumonia, or infections of the blood.
- Antibiotics are given to kill Staph germs when they cause infections. Some staph are resistant, meaning they cannot be killed by some antibiotics. “Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus” or “MRSA” is a type of Staph that is resistant to some of the antibiotics that are often used to treat Staph infections.
Who is most likely to get an MRSA infection?
In the hospital, people who are more likely to get an MRSA infection are people who:
- have other health conditions making them sick
- have previously been in a hospital or a long-term care facility
- have been treated with antibiotics
People who are healthy and who have not been in the hospital or a long-term care facility can also get MRSA infections. These infections usually involve the skin. More information about this type of MRSA infection, known as “community-associated MRSA” infection, is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
How do people get an MRSA infection?
People who have MRSA germs on their skin or who are infected with MRSA may be able to spread the germ to other people. MRSA can be passed on to bed linens, bed rails, bathroom fixtures, and medical equipment. It can spread to other people on contaminated equipment and on the hands of doctors, nurses, other healthcare providers and visitors.
Can MRSA infections be treated?
Yes, there are antibiotics that can kill MRSA germs. Some patients with MRSA abscesses may need surgery to drain the infections. Your healthcare provider will determine which treatments are best for your child.
What are some of the things CHKDHS is doing to prevent MRSA infections?
To prevent MRSA infections, doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers:
- Clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after caring for every patient.
- Carefully clean hospital rooms and medical equipment.
- Use Contact Precautions when caring for patients with MRSA. Contact Precautions mean:
- Whenever possible, patients with MRSA will have a single room or will share a room only with someone else who has MRSA.
- Healthcare providers will put on gloves and wear a gown over their clothing while taking care of patients with MRSA.
- Visitors may also be asked to wear a gown and gloves.
- When leaving the room, hospital providers remove their gown and gloves and clean their hands.
- Patients on Contact Precautions are asked to stay in their hospital rooms. They may go to other areas of the hospital for treatments and tests.
- May test some patients to see if they have MRSA on their skin or other areas of the body if needed. This test usually involves rubbing a cotton-tipped swab in the patient’s nostrils, on the skin, etc, which is then sent to the laboratory to see if MRSA grows. This takes several days.
What can I do to help prevent MRSA infections?
In the hospital: Make sure that your healthcare providers clean their hands before examining your child, either with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. If you do not see your child’s healthcare providers clean their hands, please ask them to do so.
When your child goes home: If your child has wounds or an intravascular device (such as a catheter or dialysis port) make sure that you know how to take care of them, and that you and other family members clean their hands.
Can our friends and family get MRSA when they visit my child?
The chance of getting MRSA while visiting a person who has MRSA is very low. To decrease the chance of getting MRSA, you, your family and friends should:
- Clean your hands before you enter your child’s room and when you leave.
- Ask a healthcare provider if you, your friends and family need to wear protective gown and gloves when you visit your child.
What do I need to know before my child goes home?
To prevent another MRSA infection and to prevent spreading MRSA to others:
- Keep giving your child any antibiotics prescribed by his/her doctor. Do not give half-doses or stop before he/she completes the prescribed course.
- Clean your hands and your child’s hands often. Make sure to clean your hands before and after changing your child’s wound dressing or bandage.
- People who live with you and your child should clean their hands often as well.
- Keep your child’s nails trimmed to avoid scratching the skin and introducing the MRSA germs.
- Keep any wounds clean and change bandages as instructed until healed.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
- Wash and dry your child’s clothes and bed linens in the warmest temperatures recommended on the labels.
- Tell your child’s healthcare providers that he/she has MRSA. This includes home health nurses and aides, school nurses, therapists and personnel in doctors’ offices. Your doctor may have more instructions for you.
- If you have questions, please ask your doctor or nurse.
What if my child has to come back to CHKD?
As long as your child has MRSA, we will use Contact Precautions when he/she is a patient at CHKD. This will help other patients from getting infected with MRSA. Eventually, if your child has special testing and no longer has MRSA, Contact Precautions may not be needed.
This material was adapted from information co-sponsored by: SHEA (The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America); IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America; APIC (Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology) CDC (Center for Disease Control) and The Joint Commission. 2009
This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.