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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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MRSA- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

What is MRSA? MRSA is a type of bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), which has become resistant to certain antibiotics. S. aureus is a bacteria that lives on the skin and in the noses of healthy people. It is a common cause of skin and soft tissue infections in hospitals and in the community. Most skin infections are minor (like pimples and boils) but Staphylococcus bacteria can cause more serious infections including wound infections, blood infections and pneumonia.

MRSA can affect people in two different ways - colonization or infection. If a person carries the organism in their nose and on other parts of the body with no signs of illness, they are colonized. If the person shows signs of illness, they are infected.


  • MRSA Fact SheetMRSA Fact Sheet (PDF 80KB)
    View, download and print the MRSA Fact Sheet. MRSA is a type of bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), which has become resistant to certain antibiotics.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Infectious Disease Control Team:

  • 519-663-5317 Ext. 2330

Who is at risk for MRSA infection?

Outbreaks of MRSA have been documented in hospitals, correctional facilities, military training camps, and on sports teams where close skin contact, cuts or abrasions on the skin, crowded conditions and poor hygiene may be present. While hospital-associated strains tend to infect people who are ill, elderly and/or immunocompromised; community-associated strains have been known to cause skin and soft tissue infections in younger healthier people like athletes and military recruits.

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How is MRSA spread?

MRSA is spread from one person to another by direct contact, usually on the hands of caregivers and/or by contact with objects contaminated by the skin or body fluids of an infected person. It is not spread through the air like the common cold or flu. The bacteria can be present on the hands of people who are colonized with MRSA or people who have come in contact with MRSA. Handling contaminated objects such as facial tissues, athletic equipment, bar soap, and towels can also spread the bacteria.

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What is the treatment for MRSA?

People who carry MRSA with no illness do not require any special medical treatment. If a person becomes ill, their health care provider will determine the appropriate treatment, which may include draining an infected wound and/or prescribing antibiotics. Hospitalization may be needed for more serious infections.

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How can we prevent MRSA infection?

To prevent the spread of MRSA infection:

Thorough handwashing

Cleaning your hands is the single most effective way to control the spread of MRSA. The use of liquid soap and water with paper towels and/or the use of waterless alcohol-based hand rubs are very effective in removing organisms from the hands and preventing spread of the bacteria to others.

  • The six steps to good hand washing are:
    1. Wet hands with warm running water
    2. Put liquid soap on hands
    3. Lather hands and scrub for 20 seconds
    4. Rinse under running water
    5. Dry your hands with paper towels
    6. Use the towel to turn off the taps



  1. Apply the hand rub to your hands. Use an amount about the size of a dime.
  2. Rub your hands together until the hand rub is gone ands will feel dry in about 15 seconds.

Personal Hygiene

It is important for everyone, including people with MRSA, to practice careful personal hygiene such as daily showering with soap and using clean towels. Regular changing and washing of clothes is also important.

Avoid sharing personal items

Items such as bar soap, towels, bed linens, razors, sports equipment, and drug equipment should not be shared.

Environmental cleaning

Shared environments like showers and beds, as well as athletic uniforms, and equipment should be cleaned routinely and additionally when soiled with body fluids. Ensure that the product used to clean is labeled with the word ‘disinfectant’ and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

Cover wounds

People with open sores or wounds should keep them covered with a clean bandage and infected wounds should be assessed by a healthcare provider. Bandages should be properly disposed of in the garbage.

Community movement

People with MRSA should not be restricted from moving freely throughout their home and the community. If a person has draining wounds, or has a tracheostomy with uncontrolled secretions, special precautions may be necessary.

Laundry and waste disposal

Laundry including clothing, towels, and bed linens may be laundered in the same manner as the rest of the household laundry. MRSA bacteria are destroyed during the normal laundering process and all garbage cans can be put out for normal pick-up. No special cleaning of furniture or items like dishes is required.

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Date of creation: April 1, 2009
Last modified on: January 11, 2016


1Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) Accessed May 25, 2015 Retrieved from
2Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee. Annex A – Screening, testing and surveillance for antibiotic-resistant organisms (AROs). Annexed to: Routine Practices and Additional Precautions in All Health Care Settings. Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario; 2013.
3Public Health Agency of Canada website “Fact Sheet- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus” Accessed May 25, 2015 Retrieved from