An MRSA test will be relevant to you in 3 different circumstances. When a family member has it, if you have a skin condition that might be MRSA and when you about to have a medical procedure. MRSA is a tiny bacteria you could carry it on your skin or in your nose for a long time without it making you ill. Between 1-2% of people are MRSA carriers – although this may be more in some cities and risk groups. As many as 1 in 3 people have the equally destructive but easier to treat staph aureus (SA) on their skin and it is thought that 4 out of 5 people carry SA at some point in their lives.
MRSA Test – Home or Friends
If people suspect that they are MRSA carriers, because of MRSA infections among friends or family, they can ask for a simple MRSA test at their medical provider. These tests are often sought when some someone has chronic MRSA. Friends and family pets are tested to see if there is a ‘silent carrier’ who has the bacteria but has not developed an infection. A nasal swab can be taken and sent for testing. In the medium term a 15 minute MRSA test should become available.
Special soaps such as Hibiclens can help remove the bacteria from the skin and regular washing/showering will also help frustrate the possible long term colonisation of your body. Nasal creams are also available but overuse will breed resistance and you could become reinfected again within days, within the community.
MRSA Test – Skin Infection
MRSA skin infections often start as small red bumps. You may think that they are pimples, small boils or insect bites. They will often be swollen, may leak yellow pus and may feel warm in the area around the inflamation. Other bacteria can also be the cause of these skin issues – only a MRSA test will suggest the real cause.
If the infection develops into an abscess,(pockets of pus under the skin), or a carbuncle, (large abscess which may have one or more opening) then incision and drainage might be needed and silver bandages or other wound dressings might be advised. The medical provider will often send a MRSA test for analysis and will usually suggest an antibiotic that is the right one for the strain you have.
MRSA is best thought of as a tribe of highly related but subtly different infections. The MRSA test will clarify which strain you have and the doctor can ensure you get drugs that are thought to work against that strain
An antibiotic may not be useful or needed in many cases but until the MRSA test is back they tend to play it safe. Tests that return results in hours rather than days are important to help staff make the right choices. In a small number of cases these skin infections develop into serious and extensive abcesses and may invade the rest of the body.
Other conditions and operations
MRSA can be a complicating factor, among many, of almost any other medical condition including surgical site incisions, flu, pneumonia, heart conditions and arthiritis. It can attack vulnerable tissue and create large pus filled internal abscesses.
More and more hospitals screen patients on arrival and embark on skin cleaning with chlorahexdrine, nasal creams and pre-emptive antibiotic use if the patient is high risk or returns a positive MRSA test from nasal swabs or blood cultures
MRSA Test Headlines
The technology of MRSA testing is improved and discussed a great deal in medical and news literature – see below for the latest headlines
- Antibiotics - The Perfect Storm: The Wellcome Trust and Diagnostics
- The Challenge of Diagnosing and Treating Staphylococcus aureus Invasive Infections in a Resource-limited Sub-Saharan Africa Setting: A Case Report
- Prospective two-centre comparison of three chromogenic agars for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus screening in hospitalized patients. - PubMed - NCBI
- Swabbing Surgical Sites Does Not Improve the Detection of Staphylococcus aureus Carriage in High-Risk Surgical Patients. - PubMed - NCBI
- Multiple-locus variable number tandem repeat analysis is superior to spa typing and sufficient to characterize MRSA for surveillance purposes. - PubMed - NCBI
- SPR-DNA array for detection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in combination with loop-mediated isothermal amplification. - PubMed - NCBI
Other MRSA Symptoms Pages
- MRSA Screening & Preventing Infection
- What are the signs and symptoms of MRSA?
- MRSA Test – when should you ask for one?
- What is MRSA Infection? – 4 Key Facts