Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)


What is MRSA?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), are bacteria that are usually found on people's skin, nose, or in their gut that are resistant to the antibiotic called methicillin. Some people carry MRSA on their bodies with no symptoms or complications; we call this colonization.

What is an MRSA infection?

MRSA infections can cause conditions such as boils, abscesses, surgical site infections or pneumonia.

How is MRSA found?

Upon admission to our UHN sites, patients are screened by having their noses and skin swabbed. We send a swab off to the lab and see if it can be detected.

How can I get it? Is it contagious?

MRSA can be spread by physical contact and touch within healthcare settings. Because many people can carry it on their bodies, cleaning our hands and shared equipment is very important.

What does it mean to have MRSA? Is it treatable?

If a patient has been diagnosed with MRSA, they will be seen by staff under Contact Precautions.

It's important to know...

At UHN patients colonized or infected with MRSA are on place on Contact Precautions. We may also ask patients to limit activities outside of their rooms. Patients who are immunocompromised are at a greater risk of developing MRSA infections and complications.

Some patients can be treated to clear their MRSA colonization using medication. If the treatment is successful, this means that you will no longer carry the MRSA bacteria in your body. Your health care team might start this treatment when you are in the hospital.

If you have questions regarding treating MRSA infections, please consult your health care team.

What is UHN doing to prevent the spread?

Our infection prevention and control (IPAC) department works diligently to track and prevent the spread of communicable diseases, including MRSA.

IPAC checks to make sure all patients are tested for MRSA upon admission and monitors for any risk of transmission. We also work closely with staff to promote hand hygiene and proper PPE and cleaning practices.

At UHN we recommend thorough hand washing to prevent the spread between patients and staff, diligent use of contact precautions, as well as cleaning/disinfection of high-touch surfaces.

Good environment cleaning is very important in preventing the spread of MRSA. When a room has been occupied by an individual with MRSA, our Environmental Services team will perform extra cleaning measures.

How do I prevent the spread?

Cleaning your hands is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of MRSA. Always clean your hands after using the toilet, before meals and upon leaving the room. Health care staff and visitors must clean their hands when they enter and when they leave the patient's room.

Don't be shy about reminding everyone to clean their hands. For more see Hand Hygiene practices at UHN pamphlet.

Can I still have visitors?

Visitors are still permitted for individuals under Contact precautions for MRSA. We ask that visitors wear a fresh set of PPE including gowns and gloves before entering the patient's room.

For more on visitation while in the hospital, please contact your healthcare team or see UHN's General Visitation Guidelines.


To view MRSA bloodstream infection rates for all Ontario hospitals, including UHN, please visit Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care website.

For more information on MRSA, please read the What is MRSA? brochure.

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