Everyone has bacteria (also called germs) living on their skin and in their bodies. Most germs are helpful and don’t make you sick. But some germs are harmful and can cause infections. MRSA (methicillin-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus) is a germ that some common antibiotics can’t kill. Another way to say this is MRSA has become resistant to some antibiotics, so it’s harder to treat MRSA infections.
MRSA infections can be minor, like an infected pimple, boil, or abscess. They can also be serious, like an infected wound or pneumonia. MRSA commonly causes skin and soft tissue infections. These infections are usually treated with drainage, wound care, and the right antibiotics.
MRSA is more common in people who are taking antibiotics or being treated for health problems. But anyone can get MRSA.
MRSA can be found in the nose, on skin, in urine, or in wounds. It can live for days or weeks on hard surfaces such as countertops and toilets or shared items such as sports equipment.
MRSA spreads through contact with someone who is carrying or infected with MRSA. If a person has the germs on their hands, they can pass MRSA to any person or thing they touch.
Colonization means that MRSA lives on you but doesn’t cause health problems. For most people, colonization isn’t dangerous, and it usually won’t make you sick because your immune system keeps it under control.
Infection is when MRSA causes symptoms such as pain and fever. Some people may be at risk of getting an MRSA infection. As with any type of infection, it can become serious.
People who are colonized with MRSA, also called carriers, are not usually treated with antibiotics. Colonization with MRSA may go away without treatment.
People infected with MRSA often get antibiotics that are effective against MRSA. It’s very important to finish taking the whole prescription of antibiotics, even if you’re feeling better.
There are five risk factors for getting MRSA in the community:
There are simple things you can do to stop MRSA and other germs from spreading:
It’s safe for friends and family to visit you at home if you have an MRSA infection. Follow all the advice about how to stop it from spreading.
Current as of: April 12, 2021
Author: Infection Prevention and Control, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.