MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureaus) is a serious infection that can be life threatening when it spreads in the body, so everyone asks, “Is it contagious?” The answer is, “Yes, MRSA is contagious.” For this reason it is important to know how it is spread from one person to another.
Some people can spread MRSA and never have symptoms themselves because the bacteria have colonized (present but there are no symptoms), usually in the nostrils. People wonder how long it is contagious. It is contagious during the entire course of the infection; it does not have a stage where it is not contagious, so it can be spread at anytime. There are different ways that this infection can be acquired.
Contagious Patients Spread MRSA
MRSA is very contagious and it is no longer just being spread in hospitals (HA-MRSA), it is now being spread in the community (CA-MRSA). In the hospital, a contagious MRSA patient may come in contact with other patients and spread the bacteria. Caregivers that do not follow proper sanitizing procedures between patients can spread the bacteria. Equipment and instruments that are not properly cleaned can carry this infection. In the community, a contagious person who is in direct contact with a surface can contaminate the surface. The next person that uses the surface can acquire the infection. This is common in spas, gyms, prisons, day care, nursing homes, etc.
Caregivers Contagious With MRSA
Due to MRSA being so contagious, caregivers are at risk of carrying the MRSA bacteria, being a transient carrier (bacteria on clothing or equipment), and acquiring this bacteria infection from the environment or from giving direct care to someone who is infected. Keeping the infected wound covered, hand washing, and protective covering will protect a caregiver from infection. In addition, caregivers should be sure that they cover any broken or vulnerable skin that they have while performing care-giving duties. Building a strong immune system is also very important.
Airborne MRSA Infection
MRSA is not actually spread by breathing the same air as a contagious person. Since it is most commonly found in the nose, when someone who is contagious sneezes and expels bits of mucus, the bacteria can spread, which makes it airborne. Where the droplets land, the bacteria can live on surfaces and infect someone with a compromised immune system or has an open wound. Hand washing is very effective in preventing this infection from spreading this way. Keeping open wounds covered in environments that there may be a risk of acquiring it is another simple way to avoid airborne infections.
MRSA Contaminated Environment
A person who is infected with MRSA or is a carrier (It has colonized, but there are no symptoms) are contagious. When they sneeze, the bacteria that have colonized in the nose can contaminate the area around them. For people who are immobile, if they aren’t moved regularly and their bedding isn’t cleaned, they can shed these bacteria from the nose (most common), armpits, and groin, which will contaminate the area around them.
The contagious of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureaus) cannot be controlled, but by simply washing hands properly, will reduce much of the risk of becoming infected with it.