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What is a golden staph infection?

Staphylococcus aureus, sometimes referred to as "staph",  is a normal bacteria and is commonly found in the nose and skin of otherwise healthy people.


What causes a staph infection?

Staphylococcus infections frequently enter the body through broken skin. People who have had recent surgery, have an open wound or dermatitis are at risk of a staph infection.

A staphylococcus aureus or staph infection can cause minor skin infections such as a boil or pimple. In some cases it can lead to serious complications such as blood poisoning and lung infection.


What is golden staph (MRSA) infection?

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus ( MRSA) often referred to as "Golden staph" is the term used to describe a strain of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus (staph) that is resistant to methicillin, a type of antibiotic. It is also becoming increasingly resistant to many other antibiotics.

MRSA is commonly found in in hospitals and nursing homes but recently golden staph has been found in the community. Many people carry MRSA in the lining of their nose (mainly medical staff) but are otherwise healthy. 

Older people and people with suppressed immune systems are at risk of MRSA and in many cases it can make them seriously ill. 

MRSA appears similar to a staph infection. Usually acquired in hospital after surgery an MRSA infection can prove hard to heal and manage. In order to detect MRSA a wound swab must be taken and sent to a laboratory.


How is MRSA infection transmitted?

MRSA can be found on the skin, in the nose, blood, urine or in wounds.

MRSA infection is passed on from person to person by direct contact, poor hand washing and hygiene practices or the use of unclean equipment.

MRSA can spread from one patient to another, especially the very sick and frail. People who have undergone surgery or have an open wound or tubes going into their body are at risk of MRSA.


How is MRSA treated?

Managing a MRSA infection can take time. Treatment will involve using antibiotics that are sensitive to the bacteria. As the bacteria are resistant to many antibiotics it can be difficult to treat.

If an MRSA infection is in a wound it will need to be kept clean and covered. Treatment may involve specialised dressings. Nursing staff may wear an apron, gloves and gown when dressing the wound.


MRSA prevention

Proper handwashing is one of the most effective techniques to reduce the risk of transmission of MRSA in hospitals and nursing homes. Some people are isolated within the hospital environment to help stop the spread of MRSA.

If you visit a loved one at hospital always make sure to wash your hands before and after visiting. If you are caring for someone at home with MRSA you may be advised to use antiseptics for hand and body washing to reduce the risk of the bacteria spreading.

Anyone with a wound infected with MRSA should keep it covered and wash their hands before and after coming in contact with the wound. Disposable gloves and the proper cleaning of equipment can also help stop the spread of MRSA.

Any wounds that are taking a long time to heal should be seen by a doctor. A wound swab will be taken if MRSA or staph infection is suspected.





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Queensland Government
Accessed 15/03/09
Topic: Golden Staph - Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)