Everyone has germs (bacteria) living on their skin and in their bodies. This is normal. Most bacteria are helpful and don’t make you sick. MRSA is a germ that’s become resistant to some commonly used antibiotics like methicillin. This makes it harder to treat infections caused by MRSA.
MRSA infections can be minor, like a pimple, boil, or abscess. They can also be serious, like an infected incision or pneumonia. MRSA that is spread outside of a healthcare site most 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 a health issue. However, anyone can get MRSA. Outside of a healthcare site, it's called community-associated MRSA.
MRSA can be found on the skin, in stool, urine, or in wounds. It can live on hard surfaces (e.g. countertops, toilets, equipment) for days or even weeks.
MRSA is spread through contact with someone who’s carrying or infected with MRSA. It can be passed from dirty hands to any person, object, or surface they touch.
If you touch an object or surface that has MRSA on it, you can spread the MRSA to another person or another object.
If you clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, your hands usually won’t have MRSA on them. However, if your surroundings aren’t properly cleaned your hands can very quickly get MRSA on them again. Cleaning your hands often is the best way to stop the spread of MRSA.
There are 5 risk factors for getting MRSA outside of a healthcare site:
How to wash your hands with plain soap and water
How to use alcohol-based hand rub
Always choose an alcohol-based hand rub that has 70 to 90% alcohol in it.
If your hands look or feel dirty wash them with soap and water. If there’s no soap and water, clean your hands with a moist towelette until the dirt’s gone, then use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Current as of: March 20, 2017
Author: Infection Prevention and Control, Alberta Health Services
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