, Doctors Helping People Online for Over 10 years
Home Search SiteMap Contact Us Forum Store Review Board

MRSA Infection

Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

Physician-developed and -monitored.

Original Date of Publication: 20 Feb 2008
Reviewed by: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 20 Feb 2008

Original Source:

Home » MRSA Infection » Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention


Staph infection diagnosis is based on identifying Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. To make the diagnosis, a diagnostic test called a culture usually is performed. In this test, a sample is taken from the infection site, grown in a laboratory setting that encourages bacterial growth, and examined under a microscope for the presence of S. aureus. Once S. aureus bacteria are identified, they are cultured in the presence of methicillin and other antibiotics. If they grow in the presence of antibiotics, the condition is diagnosed as MRSA infection.

Cultures can be performed using nasal and throat secretions, or samples from infected areas of skin and other tissues (e.g., blood, joint fluid, bone marrow, cerebral spinal fluid [CSF]). Results of a culture can take as many as 48 hours. Because prompt MRSA diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications in some cases, newer diagnostic tests that can detect staph bacteria more quickly are being developed.


Treatment for MRSA infection usually involves intravenous (i.e., through a vein) antibiotics. IV antibiotics provide a more effective concentration of medication in the bloodstream than antibiotics that are administered orally. Oral administration may result in decreased absorption of the antibiotics in the digestive tract. Because this type of bacteria is resistant to antibiotics that are usually administered, other medications, such as vancomycin (Vancocin®, Vancoled®), linezolid (Zyvox®), and daptomycin (Cubicin®) often are used to treat MRSA infection.

To help reduce the development of drug-resistant bacteria, antibiotics should always be used as directed. When oral antibiotics are prescribed, patients should be sure to finish all medication, as unfinished doses can lead to additional drug resistance.

Treatment for MRSA infection also may include surgery to drain the infection and/or remove damaged tissue. Other types of treatment may be used to relieve symptoms and complications caused by MRSA infection. These treatments include medications, oxygen therapy, and dialysis.

In some cases, staph infections, including MRSA, recur (reappear) and require additional treatment. If left untreated, MRSA infections can lead to organ failure and death.


The following precautions can help prevent the spread of staph infections, including MRSA:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Remove rings while washing the hands.
  • Keep fingernails trimmed.
  • Keep all cuts and scrapes clean and bandaged until they are fully healed.
  • Avoid contact with other people's cuts, scrapes, and bandages.
  • Do not share personal items, such as wash cloths, towels, or razors.
  • Clean and disinfect shared equipment (e.g., exercise machines) before using.
  • Wash clothing and linens in water and laundry detergent and dry in a clothes dryer, if possible.
  • Health care providers should wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before having contact with a patient.
  • Use all prescribed antibiotics exactly as directed.
  • Contact a health care provider immediately if you suspect you have a staph infection.

To help control the spread of MRSA, some medical facilities are using devices (e.g., catheters, surgical instruments) that are coated with antibiotics. Other prevention measures used in hospitals include wearing gloves and surgical masks when in contact with patients. Many schools and workplaces are creating new policies and procedures to help reduce the spread of MRSA infection.

MRSA Infection, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention reprinted with permission from
© 1998-2008, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MRSA Infection (continued...)

Comment on the above article

Browser Comments
    There are currently no comments.

MRSA Infection Resources

Join Our MRSA Infection Forum

Do you have a question, want to share medical advice, or just need to discuss your situation with someone else having a similar experience?

The healthchannels forum is a resource for everyone to share and discuss their health and medical needs with others.

Living with...Share your story

Do you have a personal health story that you would like to share with others?

As a source of free patient education, our goal is to provide our users with trustworthy information and support from others. That's why we've started our "Living with..." sections.

Our "Living With..." support pages are a place to share experiences about living with a certain condition, disease, disorder, or illness and for loved ones of those dealing with health-related issues.

Many people, especially when newly diagnosed, find comfort in knowing that others are having a similar experience.

Help others by sharing your story.

View stories already submitted.

Stay Updated

Sign up for our newsletter and receive important updates on the medical conditions that are most important to you.

To quickly access health information from your website's browser,
download's healthchannels toolbar.