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MRSA

Although there have been no reports of MRSA spreading through recreational water, there is a potential risk of spreading MRSA at recreational water facilities through contact with another person’s MRSA infection or contaminated objects and surfaces. Below are answers to common questions regarding MRSA and recreational water facilities.


What is MRSA?


Staphylococcus aureus ("staph") is a germ that often lives in the nose or on the skin of healthy people. MRSA, short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a type of staph germ that is resistant to certain antibiotics.

In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections (pustules, boils) that may be:

  • Mistaken for spider bites
  • Red, swollen, painful, warm to the touch, and have pus or other drainage
  • Accompanied by a fever

To learn more about MRSA, please visit CDC's MRSA website.


Can MRSA be spread at recreational water facilities?


MRSA does not survive long in recreational water (for example, pools or hot tubs) that has proper disinfectant (chlorine) and pH levels. There have been no reports of MRSA spreading through contact with recreational water.

However, MRSA can be spread at recreational water facilities and other places by direct and indirect contact with infected persons. Direct contact can happen when you touch another person’s MRSA infection. Indirect contact can happen when you share items (like towels or razors) or touch surfaces (like hand rails or locker room benches) contaminated with MRSA. MRSA is most likely to spread when it comes into contact with an uncovered cut or scrape.

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How do I protect myself, my family, and others when visiting recreational water facilities?


Take action! There are steps you can take to protect yourself and others from MRSA.


Steps to Protect Yourself


  • All swimmers
    • Don’t touch any bumps, cuts, infected areas, or bandages on another person’s skin
    • Don’t share items, like towels or razors, with other people
    • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and cover them with bandages
    • Talk to recreational water facility operators to make sure they:
      • Clean frequently-touched surfaces
      • Wash towels after each use
      • Maintain proper disinfectant and pH levels in the water to kill germs
  • If you have a skin infection
    • Don’t go in recreational water. Other germs from the water can get into your wound(s) and cause additional infections.

Steps to Protect Others


  • If you have a skin infection
    • It might be difficult to keep infected skin adequately covered while in the water, so it is best to stay out of recreational water. If you do go in the water, cover any bumps, cuts, or infected areas with water tight bandages
    • Practice good hygiene by regularly washing hands with soap and water
    • Don’t let other people touch your bumps, cuts, infected areas, or bandages

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To learn more about MRSA, please visit CDC's MRSA website.

If you are a pool or hot tub operator and would like more information on how to properly disinfect your facility and prevent MRSA from spreading, visit the Prevention of MRSA Infections in Athletic Facilities page. For guidelines and resources on how to prevent the spread of other germs at your facility, please see the Education and Information for Aquatics Staff page.

 
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