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MDRO - Multidrug-Resistant Organisms
MRSA (pronounced: mersa)
MRSA is an acronym for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

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This is the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) portion of the multi-drug resistant organism module of OSHA's Hospital eTool. This electronic aid provides information (see Disclaimer) to help stop the spread of MRSA among employees and others working in healthcare and other industries. Your local public health agency has information on what your community is doing to prevent the spread of MRSA.

Since the mid 1970s, there has been a dramatic increase in the proportion of Staphylococcus aureus (staph infections) caused by MRSA. MRSA infections are becoming increasingly common among persons of all ages who previously were considered to be at low risk for this type of infection. Employers and employees in a number of different industries have expressed concern about MRSA infections in the workplace and what they can do about it. MRSA colonization and/or infections have been reported in healthcare employees and laboratory personnel, professional athletes, veterinarians, pig farmers, correctional facility personnel, and among school staff. The information contained in these pages may help you avoid becoming infected with MRSA while on the job.

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria
Staphylococcus aureus, commonly called "staph", is a bacteria commonly found on the skin and in the nose of healthy people. Sometimes staph can cause infections. Most of the time, these are minor skin infections that look like pimples or boils. A staph skin infection is often red, swollen, painful and may have pus or fluid draining from the affected area. Sometimes the staph bacteria can cause more severe infections in the lungs, heart, bones, deep in the skin tissues, or spread throughout the body through the bloodstream.

Various antibiotics on a counting trayMethicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a type of staph that is resistant to some antibiotics. MRSA infections occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and other healthcare facilities (such as nursing homes and dialysis centers) who have weakened immune systems. These healthcare-associated MRSA infections include infections of surgical wounds, the urinary tract, bloodstream and lungs (pneumonia). HA-MRSA can also cause illness in persons outside of hospitals and healthcare facilities. MRSA infections that are acquired by persons who have not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis, surgery, the insertion of a catheter) are known as community-associated MRSA infections. CA-MRSA infections are usually manifested as skin infections, such as pimples and boils, and occur in otherwise healthy people. However, some severe CA-MRSA infections have also occurred in healthy individuals.

More information on MRSA can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web pages and on Antimicrobial (Drug) Resistance at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Web pages.

Disclaimer: This guidance is advisory in nature and informational in content. It is not a standard or a regulation, and it neither creates new legal obligations nor alters existing obligations created by OSHA standards or the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). Pursuant to the OSH Act, employers must comply with safety and health standards as issued and enforced either by OSHA or by an OSHA-approved State Plan. In addition, Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, the General Duty Clause, requires employers to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Employers can be cited for violating the General Duty Clause if there is a recognized hazard and they do not take specific steps to prevent or abate the hazard. However, failure to implement any recommendations in this guidance is not, in itself, a violation of the General Duty Clause. Citations can only be based on standards, regulations, or the General Duty Clause.

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