MRSA in the Community (August, 2011)

Provided below is a summary of important information regarding MRSA and related health information.

MRSA Related Terms

Staphylococcus aureus (SA), often simply referred to as "staph", is a bacteria commonly found on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Staph bacteria can cause infections, and when they do, these are often referred to as "staph infections." About 25-30% of the population is colonized with staph, that is to say they are carriers of the staph bacteria but it causes no infection.

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), refers to a specific type of staph that is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin as well as several other similar antibiotics. Only about 1% of the population is colonized with MRSA.

Colonization of an individual with MRSA is different than infection with MRSA. An MRSA infection is an active disease process. MRSA infections may be in the form of an abscess, a boil, a cellulitis, or a more serious infection such as infection of the blood, lungs, urine, or a surgical wound.

People at Risk

MRSA infections can occur in any geographic location and on any part of a person's body. Most people who acquire MRSA infection in the community get infections of the skin. Close skin-to-skin contact, openings or cuts in the skin, crowded living conditions, poor hygiene, and contaminated items and surfaces are the main cause of MRSA spread in the community.

Prevention of Community Acquired MRSA

  • Clean your hands. Use soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub frequently to maintain hygiene.
  • Maintain a clean environment. Establish routine cleaning procedures for frequently touched surfaces.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes covered until healed. Maintaining cleanliness of a wound will decrease the chances of acquiring a skin infection through any opening in the skin.

When Someone in the Home Has MRSA

  • Cover the wound. Wounds that are draining should be covered with clean dry bandages until healed.
  • Maintain infections precautions. When changing bandages, disposable gloves should be worn and hands should be washed with soap and water after the bandage changes. Soiled bandages should be bagged and disposed of in the regular trash.
  • Maintain clean linens and towels. Linens should be changed and washed when soiled and on an established routine basis. Towels should be used only once.
  • Avoid sharing personal items. Items such as wash cloths, razors, clothing, etc., should not be shared between individuals.


The process of decolonization requires treatment of a colonized person to eradicate the MRSA from the individual. This should not be confused with treatment of MRSA infection. The decolonization regimens in use are often not sufficiently effective, and should not be used routinely. Decolonization may be recommended in cases of widespread MRSA infection outbreaks at the discretion of the treating physician. The process of decolonization should not be thought of as mandatory or as a "cure." Remember that individuals who are colonized with MRSA have no active infection and do not need treatment.

MRSA Infection and the Work Force

Unless specifically directed by a physician, individuals do not need to be routinely excluded from work due to MRSA infection. Individuals may continue to participate in work activities as long as the wound can be covered and contained with a clean dry bandage, and appropriate hygiene measures are maintained. Exclusion from work may be necessary if the wound cannot be adequately covered or wound drainage cannot be contained.

Please see More Information Regarding MRSA