Health Department

Joel Strasz - Public Health Director
Kathy Janer - Public Health Nursing Manager
Melissa Maillette - Emergency Preparedness & Health Education Manager
Amy Revette - WIC Manager
Mark Pickell - Business Services Manager
Joel Kwiatkowski - Environmental Health Manager
Dr. Kirk Herrick - Medical Director
Dr. Howard Hurt - Medical Examiner
Bay County Health Department
1200 Washington Avenue
Bay City, Michigan 48708
Voice: (989) 895-4009
Fax: (989) 895-4014
Health Information Line: (989) 895-4192

MRSA: What You Should Know

What is MRSA?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a type of bacteria that causes "staph" infections, ranging from minor skin infections, "pimple-like" red bumps or boils, to serious infections, like pneumonia.  But, MRSA infections can't be treated with antibiotics commonly used to treat non-resistant "staph" infections.  Healthcare providers diagnose MRSA by taking a culture of the infected site.

How does MRSA spread?

MRSA usually spreads from person to person through hands or close, skin to skin contact.  Drainage from an infected wound can spread MRSA to other parts of the body or to other persons.  We are all at risk for getting a MRSA infection, because MRSA can live on the skin and survive on some surfaces for prolonged periods of time.

How is MRSA treated?

Antibiotics are not always needed to treat MRSA skin infections.  Sometimes, a healthcare provider only needs to open and drain the wound.  The wound should be cleaned often and kept covered to prevent spreading the infection.

Do antibiotics work on MRSA?

When necessary, antibiotics may be used to treat MRSA infections.  A healthcare provider should culture the infection to determine which antibiotic will work best.  Remember that antibiotics are "antibacterial," they do not work on viral infections, like colds or flu.  It is very important to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed.  Don't save them or share them with other people.

How can I avoid getting or spreading MRSA?

  • Personal hygiene:
    Wash hands often with soap and water or use and alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after touching wounds or bandages.
    Do not share personal items, like towels, bar soap, wash cloths, razors, or clothing - even among family members.
  • Wound care:
    Seek care immediately at first signs of infection (red, swollen, painful, warm, draining pus).
    Keep wounds clean and covered with a dry bandage, especially if the wound is draining.
    Follow your healthcare provider's instructions on proper wound care.
    Throw away soiled bandages.
    Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
  • Laundry
    Wash clothes, towels and sheets in water with laundry detergent at hottest suitable temperature.  Add bleach, if desired (check label instructions).  Dry in a dryer at hottest suitable temperature - do not "line dry".
  • Cleaning
    Clean and disinfect high-touch or soiled surfaces (for example, door knobs and phones frequently, and shared sports equipment between uses) accordingly to item label cleaning instructions.  Types of cleaning/disinfecting products include soap and water, diluted bleach, Lysol, Original Pine Sol.  Follow label instructions for appropriate dilutions and contact times to be sure that surfaces are cleaned properly.