How contagious is MRSA? It is an infection that spreads in a many ways – but usually via skin to skin contact and via the hands. MRSA is a drug resistant type of the staphylococcus aureus (SA) bacteria. SA is on the skin of 30%+ of people and may be carried by as many as 80% of people at some point. MRSA is rare – 1.5% are thought to carry it, but in some cities it can be 10% – and it seems likely to grow. The bacteria can live for up for several months on surfaces.
Being MRSA Contagious & Shedding
MRSA is found in the nose but may also be found around the armpits and groin area. We shed bacteria onto many of the surfaces we touch. If you are already quite ill and stationary the bacteria can become concentrated around you and may be picked up by others.
Contamination of Surfaces
We may contaminate surfaces when we are MRSA carriers. High touch surfaces such as door handles, computer keyboards etc can be bacteria hots spots that aid transfer to people’s hands. The bacteria can travel to other parts of their bodies or to the skin of others.
Is MRSA Contagious in Your Household?
Familes should not share common household items such as combs, hairbrushes and towels. These high touch items harbor and help spread contagious MRSA infections.
Other articles on catching MRSA
- How do you catch MRSA – 5 key facts
- MRSA precautions for your home
- Is MRSA airborne? 3 key facts
- Can I get MRSA from skin contact?
- Is MRSA Contagious? 7 Key Facts For You
- Recurring MRSA & Chronic Infections
- Is MRSA Sexually Transmitted?
- Exposure to MRSA in Everyday Life
- Is MRSA just a hospital infection?
- MRSA incubation period – How long is it ?
Temporary MRSA Carriers
Nurses, doctors or friends may be transient carriers. They might shed the bacteria later that day via washing or changing their clothes but have carried it to another patient or high touch surface. Other transient carriers might include family pets which are the source of reinfection in many families.
High touch activities and your skin
Contact sports and sexual acts involving nakedness are other means by which MRSA (or SA) can be transmitted to the skin of another person.The MRSA bacteria can often be found in the groin and armpits areas and can be transferred during intimacy. High contact sports such as wrestling and American football can also be issues. They both may cause skin abrasions that give the bacteria a wound to infect. Close contact in wrestling can aid transfer skin to skin. There is also some evidence that artificial surfaces used in many football contexts can harbour MRSA and allow transfer to the skin.
MRSA Contagious? What can you do?
SA and MRSA are very common. It is therefore impractical to suggest that ‘social distancing’ may protect a family or individual as you will often encounter MRSA in other contexts. Negative attitudes to MRSA positive people will also hinder rather than help as they seek to cope with their illness.
The best response is a strong emphasis on hand hygiene within the family as this will help break the infection chain. Washing your hands 3-5 times a day for 20 seconds and after contact with a known MRSA carrier will eradicate a large part of the risk.
Please be aware that many will carry MRSA and never be ill.