I was told in hospital that I carry MRSA, but wasn’t given any further information. How did I get it and what does it mean for the future?

bowhouse

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a type of staphylococcus aureus bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. When resistant they can still live on your skin and up your nose and cause no problems or symptoms; this is called colonisation and can happen through:

• touching the skin of a person who is colonised with MRSA
• touching a contaminated surface like a door handle, phone or work surface.

If your skin is colonised and you have an opening in your skin (when the barrier is breached) the bacteria are opportunistic and can enter the opening thus causing an infection. MRSA can also enter the bloodstream through medical procedures and devices like surgical incisions (cut to skin) or medical devices like a cannula (intravenous drip).

If you are found to be colonised with the bacteria, the doctor may prescribe skin washing with special soap for your body and/or cream for your nose. This treatment is called decolonisation.

If you have symptoms of the infection your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat it. If you have been told you have a collection of pus anywhere (like an abscess) the doctors may want to drain it (take the fluid out) or operate to remove it. Some infections can’t be treated with oral antibiotics (tablets or capsules) and need to be treated with intravenous antibiotics.

You can read Tony’s story about living with MRSA here.