Browse site A – Z

Your views

Your Views

Your feedback is vital to us as we continue to increase the quality of our services.

Your views

You are here:

Date: 2 October 2014

Time: 01:19

MRSA questions and answers

What is MRSA?

MRSA stands for methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium commonly carried on the skin (MSSA). However, the issue is the methicillin resistance, which means it has developed a resistance to the most common antibiotic used for its treatment.

Back to index

Can MRSA be treated with antibiotics?

Yes, it still can be treated, but antibiotic treatment is only for clinical infection. Patients who are not clinically infected, but are colonised with MRSA, i.e. carry it up their nose or on their skin, are treated with a disinfectant liquid soap and a cream put up the nose to reduce the levels there while they are in hospital.

Back to index

How likely are you to die from MRSA?

This is unlikely.

Back to index

Is it a flesh-eating bug?

Essentially the answer is no. However, some strains of Staphylococcus aureus, which may be methicillin resistant or not, can produce a toxin which is commonly know as a flesh eating bug. This is very rare.

Back to index

What are the symptoms?

If you are colonised with (just carrying) MRSA there are no symptoms.

If you are clinically infected, the symptoms are the same as with any other infection, i.e. again dependent on where it is, but essentially for a skin infection, it's red, inflamed and painful, and you may have a temperature.

With a chest infection, you may produce green sputum and again have a temperature.

Back to index

How can it be prevented?

It is not always possible to prevent acquiring MRSA or other bugs. Good standards of personal hygiene, including hand washing, can help.

Back to index

Can it only be caught in hospital?

No. Certainly, in healthcare settings and communities such as nursing or residential homes, cross infection can take place and there is evidence of community spread.

Back to index

Do you catch it because hospitals are dirty?

No, MRSA is not caught because hospitals are dirty. But the environment does have a role to play with spread in relation to many healthcare-acquired infections.

Back to index

Can it be passed on from person to person? If so, how?

Yes, it can be passed from person to person, through direct contact without adequate hand washing after that contact. Or if somebody has a severe chest infection, MRSA can be passed via the respiratory route, through coughing.

Back to index

What types of people are likely to catch MRSA?

Anybody can acquire MRSA. Whether or not it then causes any symptoms depends on whether they have severe medical problems.

Back to index

Is there a cure for it?

This depends on how you define a cure. There are effective treatments. If you just carry the bug, essentially, you will have no symptoms. Therefore, acquisition by others who come into close contact may occur, but again they will have no symptoms and will not know they have got it unless they are screened.

It is unlikely that it will cause a clinical infection. There are several different antibiotic treatments available for infections.

Back to index

Is there a long-term effect on your life if you have had the infection?

There is no evidence to suggest there is a long term effect on your life if you have had MRSA.

Back to index

Are there any health insurance implications from contracting/carrying MRSA?

You will need to check with insurance companies, but we have no evidence to suggest so.

Back to index

Is MRSA passed on to unborn children?

It is possible for a mother to pass MRSA onto the child via the birth canal during a normal delivery.

Back to index

What can I do to prevent MRSA at home and when I come to hospital as a visitor or as a patient?

Essentially, good standards of personal hygiene, hand hygiene and the use of alcohol gels reduce the risk of cross infection with all organisms, not just MRSA.

Back to index

How can I find out if I carry MRSA?

The only way to identify if you carry it is to be screened. For more information, please see the related link box.

Back to index

Do animals carry it?

Yes, there is an evidence base that suggests animals do carry MRSA, probably acquired from human sources.

Back to index

Can animals pass it on to humans?

Yes, cats and dogs, for example, carry it on their paws. Stroking pets, and other contact with animal carriers, can pass the bacteria to humans.

Back to index

Where can you find out more information about MRSA?

Please see the external links section for further information about MRSA.

Back to index

Related pages

Links

External websites will open in a new browser window.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust is not responsible for the contents or the reliability of external websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within them. Listing should not be taken as endorsement of any kind. We cannot guarantee that links to other websites will work all of the time, and we have no control over the availability of external web pages.

Getting here

Information about travelling to, staying at and getting around the hospital.

Getting to the hospital

Jobs at UHB

See why our hospitals are great places to work.

Jobs at UHB