Exposure to MRSA – what can you do if a family or friend gets it? Where else might you encounter MRSA?
MRSA is a slightly worse version of the staphylococcus aureus infection (SA) that 35% of people are vulnerable to because they carry the bacteria on their skin. 1-2% of people on average may be MRSA carriers. It may never develop into an active infection for the majority of people. For many people the right drugs or other medical interventions solve the infection if they do get one.
If someone in your household has MRSA avoid sharing household items like towels, combs, mobile phones etc. Wash you hands when you get up, before meals, any time you go to the toilet and last thing at night. The hands are the final link in the infection chain in many cases. Read more about infection control in the home here.
MRSA exposure in Hospital
You can catch MRSA in hospital. But you may already be a carrier and you can self infect. Catching MRSA in hospital may be the result of poor infection control practices. Hand hygiene among the nursing staff is particularly important as their hands can be temporarily carrying MRSA from patient to patient. If you are going to have a major procedure then most hospitals will test you for MRSA and use mupirocin to decolonize your nose if you have it there. They should also wash you using chlorhexidine before and after an operation to help eradicate MRSA that may arrive from any source.
Exposure to MRSA in the Workplace
Some people become fearful if they become aware that someone in their workplace has MRSA. For all the reasons mentioned above this is not a helpful response as the risk is low. If there is one person in your workplace with MRSA there may be up to 35 others with the SA part, which is easier to treat but equally dangerous in a wound. The Human Resources resources site hr.blr.com says this:
- MRSA is spread by direct, close, personal contact; therefore, coworkers are not typically at risk of catching the infection from one another.
- To minimize the spread of MRSA, disinfect shared equipment and tools, wash hands frequently, and avoid sharing razors, towels, PPE, and uniforms.
- As long as the infection site is covered with a dry, sterile dressing, employees with a MRSA infection do not need to be removed from the workplace.
MRSA in Public Spaces
Any frequently touched surface in a public space has the potential to harbour MRSA (and many other bacteria). There is therefore a small risk that you could become a carrier in this way. For most people the pattern of hand washing before or after meals, after visiting the toilet etc will remove the bacteria before it has time to become established.
Gyms and Sporting Facilities
If hands and underarms are a major carrier of MRSA bacteria then gyms, certain types of contact sports and sporting equipment or surfaces all carry an MRSA transmission risk. Showering after sporting activity and hand hygiene will both reduce the risk. The facility and participants are also encouraged to clean equipment before and after use to remove MRSA bacteria before use by you or anyone else
Although the risk of catching MRSA and developing an infection is low don’t be too complacent. It can make other illnesses or wounds more complicated.
The simple actions described above will will lessen the risk a lot. If you are visiting someone seriously ill with MRSA exercise caution if you or a family member has major health challenges.
- How do you catch MRSA – 5 key facts
- MRSA precautions for your home
- Is MRSA airborne? 3 key facts
- MRSA skin infections – 3 key sources
- 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 ?