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					Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

Frequently Asked Questions about MRSA (pronounced mur-sa)*

What is Staphylococcus aureus?
Staphylococcus aureus belongs to a group of well-known bacteria known as
“staph.” Staph bacteria are one of the most frequent causes of skin infections in
the U.S. These skin infections are minor most of the time, but staph can also
cause serious infections. These infections include wound infection, bloodstream
infection and pneumonia.

What are antibiotics?
Antibiotics are powerful medicines that are used to treat infections that are
caused by bacteria.
There are many different types of antibiotics. Each type of antibiotic is designed
to kill specific bacteria. Antibiotics are not effective in treating illnesses like colds
and flu, which are caused by viruses.

What is MRSA?
MRSA are staph bacteria that have become resistant to certain antibiotics,
making them more difficult to treat.

Why is MRSA a serious public health threat?
Many lives have been saved with antibiotics. But after many years of use, and
misuse, antibiotics are losing their power to fight certain infections. Some
bacteria are becoming “resistant” to the medicines that are supposed to kill
them. As more and more bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, people are
being infected with bacteria that are difficult to treat. This is becoming a serious
health threat around the world.

Who gets MRSA skin infections?
Anyone can get a MRSA skin infection. Even healthy people with healthy skin can
become infected.

Are certain people at higher risk of getting MRSA skin infections?
Certain people are at higher risk of developing MRSA skin infections, including:
• Hospital patients
• Prisoners
• Nursing home residents and others in long-term care facilities
• Children attending day care
• Athletes
• Military recruits
• People with weakened immune systems

How is MRSA spread?
Staph bacteria, including MRSA, are almost always spread by direct physical
contact. Staph bacteria are not spread through the air. The bacteria can also
spread when people come into contact with objects that have been contaminated
with the bacteria. These objects include towels, clothing, bedding, gym or sports
equipment and bandages.

Can I get a staph or MRSA infection at my gym/health club?
Although MRSA is mainly spread from person to person by direct skin contact, it
is possible to come in contact with the bacteria by using shared gym equipment.
To protect yourself from infections in the gym
• Cover cuts, scratches or scrapes with a clean bandage.
• Place a towel or piece of clothing between your skin and surfaces of shared
equipment such as mats or weight benches.
• Wipe surfaces of equipment before and after use.
• Take a shower after your workout.
• Don’t share personal items such as razors and towels.
• If you can’t take a shower, wash your hands with soap and water or use an
alcohol-based hand cleaner.

Can MRSA skin infections be treated?
Many staph skin infections, including those caused by MRSA, can be treated by
draining the abscess or boil. Many of these infections do not need to be treated
with antibiotics. Drainage of skin boils or abscesses should only be done by a
healthcare provider.
Most staph infections, including those caused by MRSA, are treatable with
antibiotics. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, TAKE ALL THE
ANTIBIOTICS, even if the infection is getting better.
Don’t share antibiotics with other people or save unfinished antibiotics for use at
another time. If the infection is not better in a few days, contact your healthcare
provider. If other people you know or live with get the same infection, tell them
to go to their healthcare provider.

How can I prevent staph or MRSA infections?
• Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an
alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
• Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
• Don’t share personal items such as towels or razors.

What should I do if I think I have a staph or MRSA infection? What
can I do to prevent others from getting infected?
See your healthcare provider as soon as possible. They will tell you how you can
best protect yourself and others from this infection. Take the following steps to
prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant staph skin infections to others:
• Cover skin infections with clean bandages. Pus and drainage from the infection
can easily spread to others. Wear clothing that covers the infected area.
• Wash hands with soap and water frequently throughout the day, especially
after touching the wound or changing bandages. Soap does not need to be
• Do not share personal care items such as towels, razors or bar soap with
• Clean your bathroom and personal care items frequently.
• Wash towels, bedding and clothing in hot water and bleach. Dry these items in
a hot air dryer to help kill the bacteria.
• If you are diagnosed with a MRSA skin infection, tell any other healthcare
providers you visit in the future that you have had MRSA.

Is it possible that my staph or MRSA skin infection will come back
after it is treated?
It is possible to have a staph or MRSA skin infection come back after it is
treated. To prevent this from happening, follow your healthcare provider’s
directions while you have the infection and follow the prevention steps after the
infection is gone.

*This information is graciously repeated from the New Jersey Department of Health website.

                                                                                                      Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus
What kind of treatment can I get for my
MRSA infection?                                                                                                                                     Resistant
  • Many MRSA infections can be
      treated by draining the abscess or                                                                                                            Staphylococcus
      boil and may not require antibiotics.
  • Only health care providers
      should drain sores.
  • Always keep draining sores covered
      to prevent others from getting sick.                                                                                                          (MRSA)
  • Most MRSA infections are treatable           •    Avoid contact with other people’s wounds
      with antibiotics. If your case is               or anything contaminated by a wound.
      severe, you may need very strong           •    Avoid sharing personal items such as razors,
      antibiotics that can only be given in a         towels, uniforms and sports equipment that
      hospital.                                       directly touches your body.
                                                 •    Clean and disinfect objects (such as gym
                                                      and sports equipment) before use.
How can I prevent MRSA infections?               •    Wash dirty clothes, linens and towels with
According to the CDC, practicing the                  hot water and laundry detergent. Using a
following good hygiene will help prevent skin         hot dryer, rather than air-drying, also helps
infections:                                           kill bacteria.
                                                 •    Avoid using unnecessary antibiotics.
                                                Contact Information:
                                                Division of Public Health
                                                Notifiable Disease Section
                                                2 Peachtree Street NW 14th Floor
                                                Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3142
                                                Phone: 404-657-2588
                                                Fax: 404-657-7517
     •   Keep your hands clean by washing
         thoroughly with soap and water.        Your doctor: ______________________________
     •   Keep cuts clean and covered with a
         proper dressing or bandage until
         they are healed.
                                    What is MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant                   How is MRSA spread?
                                    Staphylococcus aureus)?                                 • MRSA lives on skin and survives on
                                       • MRSA is a type of Staph germ that is                    objects and surfaces for more than
                                          hard to treat with some commonly used                  24 hours.
                                          antibiotic medicines. It has developed            • Drainage (pus) from skin sores can
                                          something called resistance, or the                    spread bacteria to other body parts
                                          inability of certain antibiotics to kill the           or to other people.
                                          germ.                                             • MRSA infections can be found in
                                       • Because of resistance, MRSA can be                      places where there are crowds of
                                          hard to treat and can lead to life-                    people such as schools, gyms and
What is Staphylococcus aureus?            threatening blood or bone infections.                  jails.
  • This bacteria, often called                                                             • MRSA is almost always spread by
      Staph, is one of the most     What does an MRSA infection look like?                       direct, physical contact.
      common causes of skin           • It is often misdiagnosed as a                       • MRSA is also spread through
      infections in the U.S.              spider bite.                                           touching objects such as towels,
  • Staph is usually found on         • Symptoms may include redness,                            sheets, workout areas and sports
      the skin or in the noses of         warmth, swelling, pus, skin tenderness,                equipment that have MRSA germs
      healthy people. This is             pimples, boils or blisters.                            on them.
      called colonization.            • MRSA-infected skin lesions (sores) can
  • The majority of Staph                 change from skin or surface irritations to      How do I know for sure that I have
      infections are minor                abscesses or serious skin infections.           MRSA?
      (pimples and boils).            • If left untreated, MRSA can infect blood            • A sample of the infected wound is
  • Staph can also cause more             and bones.                                            used to grow the bacteria in the
      serious effects such as                                                                   microbiology laboratory. This is
      surgical wound infections                                                                 called a culture.
      and pneumonia that require                                                            • Once the MRSA germs are
      special antibiotics for                                                                   growing, they are tested to see
      treatment.                                                                                which antibiotics will be effective for
                                                                                                treating the infection.
                                                                                            • If the Staph germs that were
                                                                                                cultured cannot be killed with
                                                                                                standard antibiotics then the
                                                                                                infection is called MRSA.

                                                                                         Visit our website
STOP THE SPREAD OF MRSA                  ( methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus)

                What is MRSA?
                • Staph are bacteria that cause skin infections
                • MRSA is a type of staph that is resistant to
                  the commonly used antibiotics for skin

                 Skin infections caused by staph:
 folliculitis       furuncle          carbuncle                      abscess

To prevent skin infections with the Staph germ
 •   Use soap to wash your hands frequently and your body daily
 •   Do NOT share soap with others
 •   Get examined in medical if you have any sores that are
     swollen, red, painful, or draining

                               Georgia Department of Human Resources
Things to remember about living with MRSA:
1. Wash your hands often.
2. Take care of yourself: Eat right, exercise,
   quit smoking, and avoid stress.
3. Take good care of your skin.
4. Keep skin infections covered to avoid spreading
   MRSA to others.
5. Talk with your health care provider if you have
                                                         with MRSA
                                                         A GUIDE FOR PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES
   questions or concerns.

                                                            This is really serious.
                                                           I need to do something
                                                               about this now!

                                                               Learning how to control the spread of
                     March 2006                         Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
  Available for download at
             I M P O R TA N T
MRSA is a serious infection that can become
life-threatening if left untreated. If you or
                                                This brochure developed by:
someone in your family has been diagnosed
with MRSA, there are steps you need to take
now to avoid spreading it to your family and

This booklet was developed with help from
people who are living with MRSA. Follow the
recommendations and practice good hygiene
to take care of yourself. MRSA may cause                               Ac K N OW L Ed g E M E N T S
physical pain and emotional stress, but keep                 Focus group participants
in mind that it can be managed. This booklet
                                                             group Health cooperative
tells you how you can live with MRSA.
                                                             Multicare Health System
                                                             Pierce county Antimicrobial Resistance Task Force
                                                             Spokane county Health department
                                                             Tacoma-Pierce county Health department
                                                             Washington State department of Health,
                                                                Office of Health Promotion
R E S Ou R cES

     Shopping List                                                                              cONTENTS
     These items can be found at most drug stores or grocery stores.
                                                                                    Learning About MRSA
       • Disposable gloves
                                                                           Page 2   What is MRSA and why is it so serious?
       • Tissues
                                                                                2   What does MRSA look like?
       • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
                                                                                3   How did I get MRSA?
       • Antibacterial soap (if your health care provider recommends it)
                                                                                4   Will I always have MRSA?
       • Disinfectant                                                           4   How contagious am I?
       • Bleach                                                                 4   Is there a test for MRSA?
       • Plastic trash bags                                                     5   If I have MRSA, do I need to do anything special
                                                                                    when I go to a clinic or hospital?

     Web Sites                                                                      Treating MRSA
     Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)                          6    How is MRSA treated?                                   7    When should I seek medical care?

     Georgia DHR Division of Public Health
                                                                                    caring for Yourself
                                                                               8    does it matter how I wash my hands?
     GUARD (Georgia United against Antibiotic Resistant Disease)               9    do I need to be careful when I do laundry?                                                10    What about cleaning my house?
                                                                              11    How do I change my bandages?
                                                                              13    Personal care guidelines

                                                                                    controlling MRSA
                                                                              14    How do I stop MRSA from spreading when I have an
                                                                                    active infection?
                                                                              15    How do I stop MRSA from spreading when I’m a
                                                                              15    children and MRSA
                                                                              15    Pets and MRSA

                                                                              16    Shopping List
                                                                              16    Web Sites

16                                                                                                                                     1
L E A R NIN g Ab OuT MRSA                                                                                                                      c O N T R O L L I Ng M R SA

    What is MRSA and why is it so serious?                                                     How do I stop MRSA from spreading
    Some germs that commonly live on the skin and in the nose are called                       when I’m a carrier?
    staphylococcus or “staph” bacteria. Usually, staph bacteria don’t cause any harm.           • Follow the “Personal Care Guidelines” on page 13.
    However, sometimes they get inside the body through a break in the skin and cause           • If you go to a gym, disinfect all equipment after using it. This is standard policy
    an infection. These infections are usually treated with antibiotics. When common              for gyms, and the gym should supply disinfectant.
    antibiotics don’t kill the staph bacteria, it means the bacteria have become resistant      • Shower well with soap before and after using a public sauna, hot tub or pool.
    to those antibiotics. This type of staph is called MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant              • Shower immediately after participating in sports or working out at the gym.
    Staphylococcus Aureus).                                                                     • Shower before any intimate skin-to-skin contact with another person. Showering
                                                                                                  will reduce the amount of bacteria on your skin and reduce the risk of spreading
    Anyone can get MRSA. Infections range from mild to very serious, even life-
                                                                                                  bacteria to the other person.
    threatening. MRSA is contagious and can be spread to other people through skin-to-
    skin contact. If one person in a family is infected with MRSA, the rest of the family
    may get it.                                                                                children and MRSA
                                                                                               If you have MRSA and there are children in your life, you can still interact with them.
    MRSA was first identified in the 1960’s and was mainly found in hospitals and
                                                                                               Washing your hands and preventing children from coming in contact with your
    nursing homes. This occurred because antibiotics were being given to people when
                                                                                               infections are the best ways to avoid spreading MRSA. Closely follow the “Personal
    they weren’t needed, and patients were not taking antibiotics as directed. In the late
                                                                                               Care Guidelines,” especially when children are present. Make sure children wash
    1990’s, a new type of MRSA was identified. This type of MRSA is becoming more
                                                                                               their hands, too.
    common among children and adults who do not have medical problems.
                                                                                               If a child in your family has MRSA, teach the child what it means to have a contagious
    What does MRSA look like?                                                                  infection. Your child is likely to be in contact with other children. If your child is in
                                                                                               daycare, make a plan with the daycare provider to reduce the risk of spreading MRSA
    Most often, MRSA causes infections on the skin. These infections may look like any
                                                                                               to other children. If your child is in school, make a plan with the school nurse.
    one of the following:
     • Sores that look and feel like spider bites
                                                                                               Pets and MRSA
       (However, MRSA is not caused by a spider bite.)
     • Large, red, painful bumps under the skin (called boils)                                 Pets, such as dogs and cats, can also get MRSA. Pets can have active infections or they
     • A cut that is swollen, hot and filled with pus                                          can be carriers. If you keep getting MRSA infections, or if you see any signs of a skin
     • Blisters filled with fluid (called impetigo)                                            infection on your pet, talk with your vet about testing your pet. Pets with MRSA can be
                                                                                               treated. You do not need to get rid of your pet.
    It is also possible to have MRSA in other areas of the body, such as blood, lungs, eyes,
    and urine. These types of infections are less common, although often more serious.         If your pet is diagnosed with MRSA, then the “Personal Care Guidelines” on page 13
    Because skin infections are more common, this booklet will focus on them.                  apply to your pet as well. Do not touch your pet’s infections and make sure to wear
                                                                                               gloves when changing bandages. Consider keeping children separated from the pet
                                                                                               until its sores have healed.

2                                                                                                                                                                                          15
c O N TROLLIN g MRSA                                                                                                               L E A R N I Ng A b O uT M R SA

     How do I stop MRSA from spreading                                                      How did I get MRSA?
     when I have an active infection?                                                       Anyone can get MRSA. You can get MRSA the same way you can get a cold, such as by
     • Follow the “Personal Care Guidelines” on page 13.                                    touching someone or something that has the bacteria on it and then touching your
     • Do not poke or squeeze the sores.                                                    eyes or your nose. Washing your hands often reduces your chances of getting MRSA.
     • Do not touch sores, especially ones that cannot be covered with a bandage or
                                                                                            MRSA can live on surfaces and objects for months. However, it can be killed though
       clothing, such as sores on your face. If you do touch a sore, wash your hands
                                                                                            proper cleaning methods. (Go to the section on “Caring for Yourself” on page 10 to
                                                                                            learn more about cleaning.)
     • Cover any infected sores with a bandage. Follow the steps under “How Do I
       Change My Bandages?” on page 11. Wash your hands immediately after putting           Some ways that you could get MRSA:
       on the bandage.                                                                       • Touching the infected skin of someone         There are two ways
     • If you have a leaking sore, put extra dressings over it to keep the drainage from       who has MRSA                                  you can have MRSA.
       leaking through. Be careful not to get any pus or body fluids on surfaces or          • Using personal items of someone who           1. You can have an
       other people.                                                                           has MRSA, such as towels, wash cloths,          active infection.
     • Wear clothes that cover your bandages and sores, if possible.                           clothes or athletic equipment                   An active infection means
     • Be especially careful if you are around people who have weak immune systems,          • Touching objects, such as public                you have symptoms. The
       such as newborn babies, the elderly, or anyone with a chronic disease. If they get      phones or doorknobs, that have MRSA             types of symptoms depend
       MRSA, it can make them very ill.                                                        bacteria on the surface                         on where the bacteria
     • Be careful if you are around someone who has a skin condition, such as eczema,        • Being in crowded places where germs             are located. usually an
       or someone who just had surgery. They may be more likely to get an infection.                                                           active infection is a skin
                                                                                               are easily spread, such as hospitals,
     • If MRSA is in your urine or feces, clean your bathroom well. If other people                                                            infection, such as a boil, a
                                                                                               nursing homes, daycares or college
                                                                                                                                               sore, or an infected cut.
       handle your urine or feces, they should wear gloves and wash their hands well           dorms
       afterwards.                                                                                                                           2. You can be a carrier.
                                                                                            You may increase your chances of getting
     • Do not participate in contact sports                                                                                                     If you are a carrier you do
                                                                                            MRSA if:
       until your sores have healed (sweating                                                                                                   not have symptoms that
                                                                                             • You take antibiotics a lot
       can cause a bandage to loosen and                                                                                                        you can see, but you still
                                                                                             • You take antibiotics without a
       lead to contact with equipment and                                                                                                       have MRSA bacteria living
       other people).                                                                                                                           on your skin and in your
                                                                                             • You don’t follow directions when taking          nose. If you are a carrier,
     • Do not go to a public gym, sauna, hot
                                                                                                antibiotics, such as stopping early or          your provider may say that
       tub or pool until sores have healed.
                                                                                                missing doses                                   you are colonized. These
     • Do not get manicures, massages or
                                                                                            You are at greater risk of getting MRSA if you      words — “carrier” and
       hair cuts until sores have healed.
                                                                                            are recovering from surgery or burns, have          “colonized” — mean the
                                                                                            tubes in your body for medical treatment, or        same thing.
                                                                                            if you share needles.

14                                                                                                                                                                               3
L E A R NIN g Ab OuT MRSA                                                                                                          c A R I N g F O R YOu R S E L F

    Will I always have MRSA?                                                                    Personal care guidelines
    Maybe. Many people who have active infections are treated and no longer have                • Wash your hands frequently.
    MRSA. However, sometimes MRSA goes away after treatment and comes back several              • Carry alcohol-based hand gel with you so you can sanitize your hands
    times. If MRSA infections keep coming back again and again, your health care                  if soap and water are not available.
    provider can help you sort out the reasons you keep getting them.                           • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
                                                                                                  Throw the tissue in a wastebasket and wash your hands.
    Even if active infections go away, you can still have MRSA bacteria on your skin and
                                                                                                • Take a bath or shower every day. This will help reduce the amount of
    in your nose. This means you are now a carrier of MRSA. You may not get sick or
                                                                                                  bacteria on your skin.
    have any more skin infections, but you can spread MRSA to others. It is not fully
    understood why some people are carriers of MRSA, yet don’t get infections.                  • Keep your fingernails short to keep the bacteria from growing under
                                                                                                  and on your nails.
                                                                                                • Change your sheets and towels
    How contagious am I?                                                                          regularly.
    If you have an active MRSA infection on your skin, it is contagious. If                     • Change your clothes daily and wash
    someone touches your infections, or touches something that came in contact with               them before wearing again.
    your infections (like a towel), that person could get MRSA.                                 • Do not share towels, razors,
    If you are a MRSA carrier, you still have the bacteria on your skin and in your nose. If      toothbrushes, or other personal
    you don’t wash your hands properly, things that you use or touch with your hands can          items.
    give the bacteria to other people. MRSA can also be found in the liquid that comes          • Take good care of your skin.
                                                                                                  Remember, MRSA lives on your               don’t share any
    out of your nose or mouth when you cough or sneeze.                                                                                      towels.
                                                                                                  skin. Any break or crack in your
    Remember, if you have MRSA it is possible to spread it to family, friends, other people       skin can allow it to enter and             use a special hand towel.
    close to you, and even to pets. Washing your hands and preventing others from                                                            Mark it, or keep it in a
                                                                                                  cause an infection. If you get a
    coming in contact with your infections are the best ways to avoid spreading MRSA.                                                        separate place, so others
                                                                                                  cut or scrape, clean it with soap
                                                                                                                                             won’t use it.
                                                                                                  and water and then cover it with a
    Is there a test for MRSA?                                                                     bandage.
                                                                                                • Take care of yourself: eat right, exercise, quit smoking, and avoid
    You would not usually be tested for MRSA unless you have an active infection. If you
    have a skin infection, your health care provider may take a sample of the fluid. This is
    called taking a culture. The lab will then test the bacteria to find out which antibiotic   • Get medical care at the first sign of infection in a cut, such as redness,
    is best for you.                                                                              swelling, pain, or pus.
                                                                                                • Tell your health care providers that you have had MRSA in the past.
    If your MRSA infections keep coming back again and again, your health care provider         • If you work in a health care setting, you may need to take special
    may test you or your family members to see if you are carriers. In this case, the             precautions. Consult with your employer.
    provider would take a culture sample from the nose, where MRSA is often found.

4                                                                                                                                                                              13
cA R IN g FOR YOuRSELF                                                                                          L E A R N I Ng A bO uT M R SA

     How do I change my bandages? (continued)                            If I have MRSA, do I need to do anything
                                                                         special when I go to a clinic or hospital?
                                                                         If you’ve ever had an active MRSA infection,
                                                                         or you are a carrier, tell all of your health
                                                                         care providers. They will wash their hands
                                                                         and may wear gloves when caring for you.
                                                                         They may also wear a gown to prevent
                                                                         getting the bacteria on their clothes. If you
                       6.   Put on a                                     are coughing, they may wear a mask or
                            new, clean                                   ask you to wear one. They will always wear
                            pair of                                      gloves when caring for a sore.
                                                                         If you are staying in a hospital or a nursing   Will I need to wear
                                                                         home, a “Special Precautions” card may          a mask?
                                         8.   Take off the second pair   be put on the door of your room. This card
                                                                                                                         Your health care provider
                                              of gloves and put them     alerts staff to use extra care to prevent       may wear a mask or ask you
                                              in the plastic bag. Seal   the spread of MRSA. Your visitors may be        to wear one during visits.
                                              or tie up the bag and      instructed to avoid touching infected skin
                                              throw it away in your      and take other precautions.
                                              regular trash.

        7.   Apply the new bandage.
             If you have a leaking
             sore, put extra dressings
             over it to keep the
             drainage from leaking
             through.                    9.   Wash and dry your hands.

12                                                                                                                                                    5
T R E ATINg MRSA                                                                                                               c A R I N g F O R YOu R S E L F

    How is MRSA treated?                                                                      How do I change
    MRSA should always be treated by a health care provider. It is important to follow the    my bandages?
    instructions for treatment that your provider gives you.

    If you do not have an active infection, your health care provider may do tests to
    find out if you still carry MRSA bacteria on your skin. If you are a MRSA carrier, your
                                                                                                                                                    3.   Remove
                                                                                                                                                         the old
    provider may decide to:
     • Do nothing, because the bacteria may go away without treatment
     • Reduce the amount of bacteria on your
       skin                                                                                          1.   Wash your hands
                                                                                                          well with soap and
    If you have an active MRSA infection,                                                                 warm water.
    your provider may choose one or more of
    the following treatments:
    1. Drain the infection
    2. Give antibiotics
    3. Reduce the amount of bacteria on your
                                                                                                                                     4.   Put the old bandage into
    1. Drain the infection                             If your provider gives                                                             a plastic bag. Take off
    Don’t do this yourself. It is very                 you antibiotics:                                                                   the gloves and put them
    dangerous to squeeze or poke a skin                Take them exactly as                                                               in the plastic bag, too.
    infection because it can push the bacteria         prescribed. do not stop
    deeper into the skin and make the infection        early, even if you feel better.
    much worse. Draining the infection should          The last few pills kill the                           2.   Put on
    only be done by a trained health care              toughest germs.                                            disposable
    provider.                                                                                                     gloves.

    The provider will open the sore and drain it. After the infection is drained, you must
    keep it covered until it heals. Sometimes your provider may ask you to come back
    for a checkup or to change the dressing. This is to make sure it is healing okay. Some
    skin infections will heal after your health care provider has drained the pus out. You
    may not need an antibiotic.                                                                                                      5.   Wash and dry your hands.

6                                                                                                                                                                    11
cA R IN g FOR YOuRSELF                                                                                                                                     T R E AT I Ng M R SA

     What about cleaning my house?                                                                2. Give antibiotics
                                                                                                  MRSA is resistant to many antibiotics so it can be difficult to treat. However, there are
     Use a disinfectant to regularly clean surfaces. Pay attention to items that are
                                                                                                  antibiotics that can treat MRSA and make the infection go away. Your provider may
     frequently touched — light switches, doorknobs, phones, toilets, sinks, tubs, kitchen
                                                                                                  culture your infection and have the lab test the bacteria to find out which antibiotic is
     counters, cell phones, pagers, and computer keyboards. Wipe the surface or object
                                                                                                  best for you. If your provider gives you antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed.
     with the disinfectant and let it dry. If body fluids or pus get onto surfaces, you need to
                                                                                                  Do not stop early, even if you feel better. The last few pills kill the toughest germs.
     do the following:
                                                                                                  Never take antibiotics without a prescription from your health care provider.
          1. Put on disposable gloves.
          2. Wipe up the fluids with a paper towel.                                               3. Reduce the amount of bacteria on your skin
          3. Throw the paper towel in the trash.                                                     or in your nose
          4. Clean the surface thoroughly using disinfectant and a paper towel.                   This may prevent the spread of MRSA if you have an active infection or if you are a
          5. Throw the paper towel in the trash.                                                  carrier.
          6. Then wipe the surface again with the disinfectant and let it dry for at least
             30 seconds.                                                                          To decrease the amount of bacteria on your skin your provider may, for a short
          7. Throw the paper towel in the trash.                                                  period of time:
          8. Remove your gloves and throw them in the trash.                                       • Have you shower daily with antibacterial soap
          9. Wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.                               • Prescribe antibiotic pills
                                                                                                   • Prescribe antibiotic ointment to put in your nose for several days
     Disinfectants to use
                                                                                                      Directions for putting ointment in your nose
      • Use any cleaner you can buy at the
                                                                                                       1. Put 1/4 inch dab of ointment on a cotton swab (Q-tip)
        grocery store that has the word
                                                                                                       2. Insert the swab as far into your nose as you can tolerate
        “disinfectant” on it. Remember to read
                                                                                                       3. Gently rub the swab on the inside of your nostril
        the label and follow the directions.
                                                                                                       4. Using a new swab repeat with the other nostril
      • Make your own solution of bleach and
                                                                                                       5. Dispose of the swabs
        water: Mix one tablespoon bleach into
                                                                                                       6. Wash your hands
        one quart of water in a spray bottle and
        label it “bleach solution.” Make it fresh
                                                          How often should
                                                          I clean?                                When should I seek medical care?
        each time you plan to clean because
        the bleach evaporates out of the water            MRSA bacteria can live on
                                                                                                   • If you have any new symptoms during or after treatment for a MRSA skin
                                                          surfaces for days, weeks
        making it less effective. Never mix                                                          infection
                                                          and months. It is important
        bleach with other cleaners, especially                                                     • If the infection does not get better
                                                          to clean regularly. For
        ammonia. Keep the bleach solution away                                                     • If the infection gets worse
                                                          items or surfaces you touch
        from children and don’t put it in bottles         frequently, clean them every             • If the infection comes back
        that could be mistaken for something to           day.

10                                                                                                                                                                                            7
c A R I Ng FOR YOuRSELF                                                                                                         c A R I N g F O R YOu R S E L F
    Practice good hygiene to reduce the amount of bacteria on your skin.               Ask your health care provider about the best kind of soap to use. If soap and water
    Wash your hands often and shower daily. Washing your hands is the number one way   are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that you can buy in any drug
    to stop the spread of MRSA bacteria.                                               store. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers will kill the bacteria within 15 seconds after you
                                                                                       rub it on your hands. Your hands must be fairly clean for the sanitizer to work. Don’t
                                                   Always wash your
    does it matter how I                           hands thoroughly:
                                                                                       use the hand sanitizers to clean surfaces or objects. Look for a sanitizer with at least
    wash my hands?                                 • before preparing food,
                                                                                       60% alcohol in it.

    Yes. You have to wash carefully to get rid       eating, or drinking
    of the bacteria. Also, you can spread MRSA     • before and after touching
                                                                                       do I need to be careful when I do laundry?
    to people you live with if you share towels.     your eyes, nose, mouth,           Yes. Dirty clothes and bedding can spread
    Make sure you have your own hand towel to        genitals, sores, acne,            MRSA bacteria.
    dry your hands on.                               boils, or rashes
                                                                                        • When collecting your laundry or
                                                   • before and after changing
                                                                                          changing your sheets, hold the dirty
    This is the hand washing method                  bandages
                                                                                          laundry away from your body and
    recommended by health care providers:          • before and after smoking
                                                                                          clothes. This will prevent getting any
     • Wet your hands first under warm             • before and after blowing             bacteria on your clothes.
       running water.                                your nose
                                                                                        • Wear disposable gloves to handle
     • Apply soap and rub together for at least    • After touching urine,                laundry that is soiled with body fluids,
       15 seconds, getting between the fingers       feces, and body fluids—
                                                                                          like drainage from a sore, urine or
       and around nails.                             this includes items soiled                                                            How often should I
                                                                                          feces. Immediately put the laundry into          change clothes and
     • Rinse with warm running water.                with body fluids, such as
                                                                                          the washer or into a plastic bag until it        bedding?
     • Dry with a paper towel or hand towel.         bedding
                                                                                          can be washed.
     • Turn the faucet off using a paper towel     • After cleaning the                                                                    • change your sheets and
                                                                                        • Wash your laundry with warm or hot                 towels regularly
       or hand towel (remember, your hands           bathroom, changing
                                                                                          water. Use bleach if possible.
       were dirty when you turned the                your bedding, and doing                                                               • change your clothes
                                                     laundry                            • Dry in a warm or hot dryer and make                daily
       faucet on).                                                                        sure the clothes are completely dry.
     • Throw the paper towel in the trash.         • After going to the                                                                    • do not put dirty clothes
                                                     bathroom                           • Wash your hands after handling dirty               or clothes you have just
       If you are using a hand towel, do not                                              sheets or clothing and before handling
                                                   • After coughing or                                                                       worn back in your closet
       share it with other people and wash it                                             clean laundry, even if you have been
                                                     sneezing                                                                                or drawers until they
       often.                                                                             wearing gloves.
                                                   • After touching things                                                                   have been washed
                                                     other people touch, such           • Throw gloves away after taking them off.
                                                     as phones, door knobs, or            Do not reuse them.
                                                     shopping carts

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