How Is MRSA Spread?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was once primarily found in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes. However, the disease is becoming more common in the general community, posing a serious threat to public health.
 
Whether the infection is acquired in a hospital setting or in the general community, MRSA is spread by contact with any of the following:
 
  • Someone who has an active infection
  • Someone who is a carrier of the infection (colonized)
  • A contaminated object.
     
Although it is more common for MRSA to be spread through direct contact with a contaminated healthcare provider, hospitalized patients may also acquire it from contaminated surfaces. One study showed that things more commonly contaminated in hospital rooms include:
 
  • Bedside rails
  • Blood pressure cuffs
  • Television remote controls
  • Toilet seats.
     
Community-acquired MRSA can be spread when contaminated personal items from infected individuals are shared. This includes things such as:
 
  • Towels
  • Bedding
  • Uniforms
  • Razors
  • Washcloths
  • Sporting equipment.
     
(Click MRSA Transmission to learn about other methods of spreading MRSA. This article also discusses the incubation period once transmission occurs, what "colonization" means, and more.)
 
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