There are different ways to screen for MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which also has the nickname, “superbug”. There has been a push to find screenings that gives fast results because it is contagious throughout the entire infection. Untreated in those with compromised immune systems can be very serious and even life threatening in some cases. The screenings can be done by testing blood, taking a swab, doing a biopsy, or culturing. The MRSA Screenings are all effective. As bacterium mutates and develops new strains, new screenings are needed. Screening can be done on an individual to test for colonization, an active infection, or to help determine the source of an outbreak.
There are different types of screenings for MRSA. Some are more invasive than others. The least invasive is a swab of the wound or the nostrils. The most invasive is a surgical biopsy. In between is a blood test. (MRSA Diagnosing With Tests) Some screenings are chosen by how fast the results can be obtained. Earlier detection can prevent the spread of this infection. In addition, screening can identify the strain of bacteria so that the most effective antibiotic can be administered for treatment. The accuracy of screening is around 99% accurate.
Facilities, like hospitals will have MRSA screening procedures, policies, and protocol for testing, treatment, and isolation of anyone who screens positively for (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Rapid results on tests allow facilities to control the spread of it.
- Blood Testing – A blood test can be used to screen for MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). It can also be used to test for methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA). The blood test can provide rapid results within hours so that treatment can be started promptly and preventive measures can begin to avoid the spread of the infection to others.
- Swab Testing – A wound or lesion may be swabbed to screen for MRSA. It is used to identify the strain and also to determine if there are still bacteria present after treatment has begun. To identify colonization (bacteria present with no symptoms), a nasal swab is done. This can prevent the spreading of this bacteria by carriers because a the patient can be isolated to avoid spreading the infection. This is especially important for patients in hospitals where there is a high population of vulnerable people. A culture of a swab can take days to get results and a DNA (PCR) test from a swab can have results within hours.
- PCR Testing – A PCR (polymerase chain reaction) screening will test for the presence of MRSA DNA. This is one of the tests that provide a rapid diagnosis of the infection. It can also determine the specific identity of a strain, which is very important to prescribe the most effective antibiotic to fight the infection and prevent it from spreading to other areas of the body. When it is important to quickly diagnose the presence of MRSA among specific populations or to provide prompt treatment, this test has become the most commonly used test. The PCR test can be done from a blood sample, swab of the infected area, or a swab of the nostrils.
- Biopsy Testing – A sample of skin or mucus membrane is used for a biopsy test for MRSA. This screening will give results within days. It is considered a surgical procedure and is invasive. Often other screening tests are used.
When MRSA screening is done, it is recommended that a culture is also done to acquire more information on the bacteria and in the event there are any inaccuracies with the PCR test (Is MRSA Screening Accurate?).