Because there are no vaccines or other medicines available to prevent MRSA, prevention strategies primarily include practicing good hygiene. MRSA is most frequently spread by direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has an active infection, or contact with a contaminated surface. Therefore, ways to prevent the infection include washing your hands with soap and water often, avoiding contact with other people's cuts or wounds, and keeping cuts and scrapes clean and covered with bandages.
How to Prevent a MRSA InfectionMRSA (short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) used to be a type of bacteria only found in hospitals and healthcare settings. In just a few decades, however, it has gone from being a controllable condition to a serious public health concern.
New strains of the bacteria have recently emerged in the community that are capable of causing severe infections in otherwise healthy individuals. These MRSA infections are known as community-associated MRSA.
MRSA is a less common, but potentially more serious, form of the common "staph" infection. It is a strain of bacteria resistant to certain types of antibiotics, which is what makes it potentially so dangerous.
There are no vaccines or other medicines available to prevent a MRSA infection. So, prevention strategies are focused on practicing good hygiene.
MRSA Prevention StrategiesMRSA is most frequently spread by direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has an active infection. It may also spread through contact with someone who is a carrier of the bacteria or by touching shared items or surfaces that have come into contact with someone else's infection (such as a towel or used bandages).
Understanding how MRSA is spread will significantly help in preventing the infection (see MRSA Transmission for more information). It is also helpful to understand the risk factors for a MRSA infection (see Who Is at Risk for Getting MRSA?).
Below are some other strategies to help prevent a MRSA infection:
- Keep your hands clean by washing them thoroughly with soap and water. Scrub them briskly for at least 15 seconds, then dry them with a disposable towel and use another towel to turn off the faucet. When you don't have access to soap and water, carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer containing at least 62 percent alcohol.
- Always shower promptly after exercising.
- Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed. Keep wounds that are draining or have pus covered with clean, dry bandages. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions on proper care of the wound. Pus from infected wounds can contain S. aureus and MRSA, so keeping the infection covered will help prevent the spread to others. Bandages or tape can be discarded with regular trash.
- Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
- Avoid sharing personal items, such as towels, washcloths, razors, clothes, or uniforms.
- In health clubs, wipe the surfaces of equipment before and after use. Also, use a barrier, such as clothing or a towel between your skin and shared equipment.
- Wash soiled sheets, towels, and clothes with water and laundry detergent; use bleach and hot water if possible. Drying clothes in a hot dryer, rather than air-drying, also helps kill bacteria in clothes.
- Tell any healthcare providers who are treating you if you have or had an S. aureus or MRSA skin infection. If you have a skin infection that requires treatment, ask your healthcare provider if you should be tested for MRSA. Many healthcare providers prescribe drugs that are not effective against antibiotic-resistant staph, which delays treatment and creates more resistant germs.