Your questions answered

What is MRSA?

There are lots of micro-organisms (germs) on our skin and in the environment around us. Most of them are harmless. Staphylococcus aureusis a common germ that is found on the skin and in the nostrils of about a third of healthy people. It can cause infections.
MRSA stands for meticillin (M) resistant (R) Staphylococcus (S) aureus (A). MRSA are varieties of Staphylococcus aureus that have developed resistance to meticillin (a type of penicillin) and some other antibiotics that are used to treat infections.

Some people carry MRSA on their skin or in their nostrils. They can carry MRSA on their skin for a few hours or days, while others carry it for weeks or months. People are unaware that they carry MRSA because it does not harm them and they have no symptoms, unlike people who are infected with MRSA.

MRSA and other germs cause problems in hospitals. This is because people who are ill are more vulnerable to infections. Complicated medical treatments, including operations and intravenous lines (drips), provide opportunities for germs to enter the body.

Can you tell by looking at someone if they have MRSA?

No, the only way to tell if someone has MRSA is to run tests.

How do you test for MRSA?

A nurse will take a swab from you skin, nose, groin, throat, wound urine or sputum. Don’t worry this will not hurt. It is then sent to our laboratory to be tested. It takes 24 hours to get a negative result, positive results can take a little longer.

If I have MRSA, am I automatically infected?

No, most patients normally only have the bacteria on their skin.

Can I only get MRSA from a hospital?

No, but people are in hospital because they are unwell which makes them more vulnerable to infection, this is why we are more careful.

How is MRSA treated?

Treatment will vary depending on the patient. Sometimes treatment can be as simple as an antiseptic body and hair shampoo. If the patient is infected with MRSA this is treated with antibiotics.

Can I have visitors if I have MRSA?

Yes, MRSA does not affect healthy people. There may be some restrictions on who can visit but the nursing staff will talk to you about this.

What is C. difficile?

C. difficile is an abbreviation of Clostridium difficile and it is the major cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and colitis, an infection of the intestines. It is part of the Clostridium family of bacteria, which also includes the bacteria that cause tetanus, botulism, and gas gangrene. It is an anaerobic bacterium (i.e it does not grow in the presence of oxygen) and produces spores that can survive for a long time in the environment.

How do you test for C. difficile?

It is difficult to tell if someone has C. difficile based on symptoms alone. To confirm a case we will send a faecal sample to our laboratory to be tested for C. difficile toxins.

Who does C. difficile affect? Are some people more at risk?

The elderly are particularly at risk with 80% of cases reported in the over 65 age group. Children under two and patients who have comprised immune systems are also at risk.

Can I have visitors if I have C. difficile?

Yes, C. difficile does not affect healthy people. To help us stop the virus spreading visitors should wash their hands before entering and leaving the ward.

Patients & Visitors