ARO are bacteria (germs) that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics. This means that some types of antibiotics can’t kill them. Examples of ARO are methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE).
MRSA: Staphylococcus aureus are germs that live on the skin and in the noses of many people. MRSA is a type of Staphylococcus or "staph" bacteria that some antibiotics can’t kill. MRSA is different from other types of staph because it can’t be treated with certain antibiotics, such as methicillin.
VRE: Enterococcus are germs that live in the small and large bowels. VRE are enterococcus bacteria antibiotics such as vancomycin can’t kill.
ARO can live on hard surfaces (such as countertops and toilets) or medical equipment (such as bedrails) for days or even weeks.
ARO can spread on unclean hands and surfaces touched by a person who is carrying or infected with an ARO. To help stop ARO from spreading, clean your hands (also called hand hygiene) with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub. Clean surfaces as well.
Colonization means that ARO live on people, but they don’t cause any health problems. For most people, colonization with an ARO isn’t dangerous and doesn’t make them sick because their immune system keeps it under control.
Infection is when ARO causes symptoms of infection such as pain and fever. Some people may be at risk of getting an ARO infection. As with any other type of infection, it can become serious (e.g., an infected wound or pneumonia).
People who are colonized with an ARO, also called carriers, are not usually treated with antibiotics. Colonization may go away without any treatment.
People infected with an ARO often get antibiotics. It’s very important to finish taking the whole prescription of antibiotics, even if you’re feeling better.
The hospital may take extra precautions to prevent ARO from spreading to other patients. If you’re on extra precautions, a sign on your door will describe the Contact Precautions that people need to follow before entering your room.
To stop ARO from spreading, do the following every time you leave your room:
There are simple things you can do at home to stop ARO or any other infections from spreading:
Yes, it’s safe for family and friends to visit you.
Current as of: March 29, 2019
Author: Infection Prevention and Control, Alberta Health Services
This material is for information purposes only. It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction, or treatment. If you have questions, talk with your doctor or appropriate healthcare provider. This information may be printed and distributed without permission for non-profit, education purposes. The content on this page may not be changed without consent of the author. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.