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MRSA Fact Sheet

What is MRSA? (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

  • Staphylococcus aureus, often called ‘staph’ is a bacteria commonly found on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. It is also found in the environment.
  • Approximately 30% of people have staph in their noses and do not have any symptoms. This is called colonization.
  • Staph aureus is a common cause of skin infections but can also cause more serious infections such as infections of surgical wounds, urinary tract or pneumonia.
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is staph that has become resistant to commonly used antibiotics.
  • About 1% of the population is colonized with MRSA


  • MRSA was first seen in England in 1961.
  • Seen in the USA on the east coast in 1975.
  • First seen at Marshall in 1986 in a patient infected at a Sacramento hospital who was then transferred to a local nursing home and from there to Marshall.
  • From that time to 2001 we have seen anywhere from zero to 12 cases a year. Although a few of our cases have been hospital acquired most of them have been infected prior to coming to Marshall.
  • A new strain of MRSA appeared in the USA about 1999 in San Francisco. This strain is more contagious than the previous strains.
  • Marshall began seeing this new strain in 2002.
  • Since then the numbers of persons with community acquired MRSA in the Placerville area has soared resulting in many patients being admitted to Marshall with MRSA infections.

What is the difference between Hospital Associated (HA) MRSA and Community Associated (CA) MRSA?

  • HA MRSA is found primarily in healthcare facilities and affects mostly persons who have weakened immune systems, are elderly, receive frequent courses of antibiotics, and have multiple illnesses and health problems, and have surgery or catheters.
  • Infections can include surgical site, urinary tract, bloodstream, pneumonia and other.
  • CA MRSA strains cause infections in otherwise healthy people in the community and is not related to being in a healthcare facility. Anyone can get it.
  • These are primarily infections of the skin but can also include infections of the bloodstream, urinary tract and a very serious type of pneumonia. Some of the skin infections may look like bug bites, boils, abscesses, etc.

Are certain people at increased risk for getting CA MRSA?

  • Yes – Although anyone can get MRSA groups at higher risk include: athletes, military recruits, children, Native Americans, sexually active gay men, and prisoners.

How is MRSA spread in the community?

  • Contaminated hands, close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions, and poor hygiene.

How do you Diagnosis MRSA?

  • By doing a culture of the infected site. You cannot tell by looking at an infection if it is caused by MRSA.

Can it be Treated?

  • Infections of the skin can frequently be treated by your physician with local wound care but may also require oral antibiotics.
  • More serious infections may require hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics.


  • Keep hands clean by washing with soap and water or use alcohol hand sanitizers frequently.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene and a clean environment.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
  • Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, razors, clothes, etc.

What do we do in the hospital to prevent spread of MRSA?

  • Use Contact Precautions for all patients with MRSA including those who are infected, colonized, or who have a history of MRSA. This requires that those who come into contact with the patient wear a gown and gloves.
  • All healthcare workers are required to clean their hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitizer before entering any patient room and when leaving the room.
  • Housekeeping of all patient rooms daily.
  • Education of staff, patients, and visitors.
  • A brochure is available for patients and visitors entitled “Living with MRSA”. Copies are located in the information racks outside of the hospital cafeteria or can be obtained by calling the Infection Control Dept.

For more information:
Marshall Medical Infection Control Dept 530-622-1441 ext. 2635