Find out how MRSA is caught, what happens when you have it, and how hospital staff and visitors can help prevent infection.

Find out more about MRSA

Transcript of MRSA

I'm Professor Brian Duerden.

I'm the chief microbiologist at the Department of Health.

MRSA stands for methicillinn-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

It's an antibiotic-resistant variant of a very common organism

that causes the majority of wound infections

and boils and pimples in patients.

It's become a problem in hospitals

because the antibiotic resistance has been selected out

and these particular strains colonise patients in hospital

and cause infections when they're vulnerable

and have other things wrong with them.

Staphylococcus aureus, the sensitive or not-so-resistant version, is common.

At least a third of us carry that in our noses or our skins quite healthily.

About ten per cent of those people in the general population,

it's MRSA, the methicillinn-resistant ones,

so that's about three per cent of the overall population.

It causes a variety of infections.

In hospital it particularly gets into surgical wounds after operations

and is the commonest cause of wound infections.

It can also get into the blood stream when patients have intravenous lines,

or it can get into the lungs of patients

when they're in intensive care being ventilated.

There's been concern as to how much this is related

to hospital cleanliness or the lack of it.

Obviously everybody wants a hospital to be clean.

It should be clean and it must be clean.

But there's not a direct relationship

between that and the cause of these infections

because it's not the general environment

that seems to lead to people getting MRSA,

it's more the person-to-person contact that's important.

So when doctors are putting intravenous drips up, or urinary catheters,

or nurses are dealing with those things or doing other elements of care,

they must wash their hands,

they must do the procedures with what we call aseptic practice,

not touching anything, making sure everything's sterile,

and that helps keep these bacteria at bay.

When somebody has an MRSA infection,

clearly everybody must take appropriate care

when they're visiting them or touching them,

but that does not mean they have to be put into total isolation,

can't have visitors, can't be seen by anybody or touched by anybody.

Clearly we would not advise people who were ill themselves

or were particularly vulnerable to infection to visit an infected patient.

The public have a role to play in this.

They have a particular role in hospitals, when they visit relatives,

by putting gowns on if their relative's infected,

by always washing their hands when they go into a hospital

and when they're leaving,

when they're going in and out of the ward,

when they've touched their relative or the surroundings.

All of those times, wash their hands

or use the alcohol gels that are provided.

Both are equally effective against MRSA.


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