MRSA screening is a low risk procedure used to determine whether you have MRSA on your skin or a MRSA infection. Antibiotic treatments are available if you test positive.

Every year, more than 35,000 people in the United States die of an infection from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one type of bacteria that has contributed to this number.

MRSA is a type of Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria that is resistant to many of the normal antibiotics used to treat staph infections. To prevent serious health complications, it’s important that people with a MRSA infection begin proper treatment as quickly as possible.

MRSA screening allows doctors to quickly detect and begin appropriate treatment for those with MRSA infections.

MRSA screening is the diagnostic testing doctors use to determine whether MRSA is present on or in a person’s body. It’s also known as MRSA testing.

MRSA screening can be used to see if you have a MRSA infection and whether treatments are working.

Many people have MRSA or staph on their skin. MRSA can be spread through close personal contact and shared personal items like razors and towels.

A serious infection will only occur if MRSA enters inside the body and spreads. If you have a break in your skin or a weakened immune system, you’re at a greater risk for a MRSA infection.

While MRSA infections used to occur mostly among people in hospitals, they’re becoming more common among people outside of them. If you think you may have MRSA, you should be tested.

Symptoms of MRSA

Signs of MRSA can include an area of skin that is:

  • painful and swollen
  • leaking pus
  • looks red and is warm to the touch

If a MRSA infection has spread to other parts of the body, you may also experience:

  • a high temperature
  • chills
  • trouble breathing
  • dizziness and confusion

Some people confuse a MRSA infection with a spider bite. Even if you’re not showing signs of an infection, your doctor may recommend you be screened for MRSA if you’re having surgery and are susceptible to an infection.

How can you prevent a MRSA infection?

Maintaining good hygiene and keeping cuts and wounds covered until they have healed are important steps that should be taken to reduce the risk of a MRSA infection.

It’s also important to keep objects and surfaces clean.

Learn how to protect surfaces against MRSA here.

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No special preparation is required for a MRSA test, and there’s very little risk associated with it.

Doctors can test for MRSA by taking samples from:

  • open wounds
  • inside your nose
  • your blood
  • your urine

To collect a sample from an open wound, your doctor will use a special swab on the wound. Similarly, for a nasal sample, your doctor will twirl a special swab inside each nostril.

Alternatively, a blood draw from the arm can be used for a blood sample. A urine cup can also be used to collect urine.

You may feel some discomfort if a wound or your nose is swabbed, but this should be mild and short-lived. Similarly, pain or bruising may occur if a needle is inserted for a blood sample, but this should be temporary.

How long does it take to get results?

The swab, blood, or urine sample will be sent to a lab. It usually takes 24 to 48 hours to get results. However, the cobas vivoDx MRSA test, which uses nasal swabs, can detect MRSA bacteria in as little as 5 hours.

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If you receive a positive MRSA test result, you have MRSA on or in your body. In the hospital, those with a positive MRSA test result may be sequestered or have additional protective protocols.

If you have a positive test result and are showing signs of infection, it’s important to start treatment quickly.

Mild cases of MRSA may be treated with an oral tablet antibiotic, but for more serious infections, you’ll likely need an intravenous (IV) antibiotic in the hospital. Antibiotics may be required for a few days or months depending on the extent of the infection.

In some cases, surgical procedures are necessary to treat complications like abscesses.

MRSA infections are potentially life threatening. It’s important to get tested if you’re experiencing symptoms of MRSA, such as skin that is painful, swollen, and warm to the touch.

MRSA screening is low risk, and testing samples can be collected through swabs, blood draws, or urine. Antibiotic treatments are available for those whose results come back positive.