Healthcare Settings

Preventing the Spread of MRSA

In healthcare facilities, such as a hospital or nursing home, MRSA can cause severe problems including:

  • bloodstream infections
  • pneumonia
  • surgical site infections
  • sepsis
  • death
How is MRSA spread in healthcare settings?

MRSA is usually spread by direct contact with an infected wound or from contaminated hands, usually those of healthcare providers. Also, people who carry MRSA but do not have signs of infection can spread the bacteria to others (i.e., people who are colonized).

How do you know if MRSA is the cause of an infection?

The only way to know if MRSA is the cause of an infection is to perform a culture (a laboratory test) of the bacteria. Obtaining bacteria to culture is a procedure done by a healthcare provider.

How common is MRSA?

CDC is engaged in several short- and long-term MRSA surveillance (infection tracking) projects that involve collaboration with health departments, individual hospitals, and academic medical centers, among others. Understanding the burden of MRSA infections—how much is occurring, where it is happening, and how it is being spread – is essential for developing effective prevention programs and measuring their impact.

Studies show that about one in three (33%) people carry S. aureus bacteria in their nose, usually without any illness. About two in every 100 people carry MRSA. Although many people carry MRSA bacteria in their nose, most do not develop serious MRSA infections.

Significant progress was made to reduce MRSA bloodstream infections in healthcare from 2005-2012, when the rates of MRSA bloodstream infections decreased by 17.1% each year. Declines in MRSA bloodstream infections slowed from 2013-2016, when no significant change was detected.

Where can I find information about MRSA at hospitals near me?

Information about MRSA rates in hospitals across the United States is available through the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), the nation’s most widely used healthcare-associated infection tracking system.

To see how CDC-funded state and local health departments, as well as academic investigators, are working to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), including MRSA, visit the Antibiotic Resistance Investment Map.

Is MRSA an antibiotic resistance problem?

Yes. Staphylococcus aureus (staph) have become resistant to several antibiotics, making MRSA and other types of resistant staph major antibiotic-resistance problems. In CDC’s landmark report, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013 Cdc-pdf[PDF – 114 pages], CDC listed MRSA as a “serious threat.” See the report and the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria to combat antibiotic resistance.

Can MRSA infections be prevented?

Yes. Numerous studies, including a 2019 publication about Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, demonstrate that MRSA prevention efforts can reduce infections.

Successful MRSA prevention requires action both at the healthcare facility level, among healthcare providers and healthcare leadership. See the Strategies to Prevent Hospital-onset Staphylococcus aureus Bloodstream Infections in Acute Care Facilities.

Healthcare facilities can make prevention of MRSA infections a priority, assess their relevant data, implement prevention actions and evaluate progress.

Healthcare providers can follow current prevention recommendations for device- and procedure- related infections, treat infections appropriately and rapidly if they do occur, and educate patients about ways to avoid infection and spread, and about early signs of sepsis.