MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus)

Staphylococcus aureus, or "staph" are bacteria that are commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Approximately 25% to 30% of the population is colonized in the nose with Staph bacteria. This means that the bacteria are present but they are not causing an infection. Sometimes staph can cause an infection. These infections may occur on the skin, and most are mild. Staph may also cause serious infections, such as surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections, sepsis, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia.

MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics called beta-lactams (e.g. methicillin, penicillin, oxacillin, and amoxicillin). Approximately 1% of the population is colonized with MRSA.

MRSA occurs most frequently among persons in hospitals and health care facilities who have weakened immune systems. Transmission of MRSA skin infections can occur with close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions, and poor hygiene.


Skin lesions such as a pimple, boil, or abcess. These can be red, swollen, painful, and have pus or other drainage. More serious infections result in symptoms that are seen with pneumonia, wound infections, and sepsis.


Unless there is a documented non-protected exposure to MRSA at work, these infections are not industrial. The employee will be treated by his personal physician.

Work status

If the employee has an MRSA wound he may work only if the wound is dry and covered with an occlusive dressing and clothing. If the wound is draining, is packed with gauze, or has a drain in place the employee is not to work. Must do judicious hand washing and use barrier protection as per hospital policies. If the wound is in an area that cannot be covered by clothing as well as a dressing the employee is not to work until the wound is healed. Examples include wounds on the face and hands.

Other recommendations include: do not share personal items such as towels, wash cloths, razors, clothing or uniforms that may have had contact with the infected wound or bandage. Wash sheets, towels, and clothes that become soiled with water and laundry detergent. Set the dryer on the hot temperature to help kill the bacteria.

Employees who have skin boils, abcesses, or wounds must be seen and cleared by Employee Health to work. If Employee Health is closed, the employee is responsible for being evaluated and cleared by his personal physician prior to working.


Developed by Employee Health Services