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How is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) spread?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

There are two types of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Health-care Associated MRSA (HA-MRSA) is spread in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes or centers for dialysis, where people have lowered immunity and are susceptible to such infection. Community Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) is spread through skin contact such as people who participate in wrestling, child care providers or people living in close quarters. These people, even if they are healthy, are at risk because of the frequent exposure they have to other people's skin.

In the hospital, MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, can spread from one person to another on the hands of healthcare providers, patients or visitors. (This is why hand washing is so important!) It can also spread on contaminated objects, such as bed linens, bed rails, bathroom fixtures or medical equipment.

Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacteria, which lives on the skin of most people. MRSA is a variant of Staphylococcus aureus which is becoming more prevalent with each passing year. It also lives on skin and mucosal surfaces, such as in the nose or mouth. The most common way MRSA spreads is through skin-to-skin contact. MRSA can also live on the surface of objects that have been touched by someone who carries MRSA on their skin. Examples include counters, towels, clothing, and razors. The best way to prevent the spread of MRSA is good hand-washing.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.