Illinois Department of Public HealthBruce Rauner, Governor


Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Illinois

What is MRSA and how can it be prevented?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA) is a type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics. MRSA usually causes infections of the skin, but also can occur in other tissues and organs of the body, with serious complications. The bacteria can spread among people through direct contact with a person’s infected area, sharing of towels or razors that have come in contact with an infection, or from touching surfaces that have been contaminated by an infection. The infection can be difficult to treat due to its resistance to certain antibiotics. Therefore, early intervention is best. The number of health care-associated MRSA infections in Illinois has increased in recent years.


Several practices can contribute to prevention:

  1. Practice good hygiene and wash hands regularly; scrub for 15 seconds with soap and water.
  2. Avoid sharing personal items such as razors or towels.
  3. Keep cuts clean and covered.
  4. A hospitalized patient with MRSA should be placed in a private room. Contact precautions should be established, requiring protective gloves and gowns to be worn while in the patient’s room.
  5. Ensure adequate cleaning and disinfection of equipment and the environment surrounding patients with this infection.

What can you do as a patient?

  1. Make sure that your health care providers clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after caring for you.  If you do not see them clean their hands, ask them to please do so.
  2. Ask your health care providers what visitors to your room should do to prevent spread of MRSA.  They should clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub when they enter and exit.  They may need to wear protective gowns and gloves.
  3. Make sure you get instructions for home care of wounds or catheters before you are discharged.
  4. You should ask for information about how to prevent another MRSA infection and how to prevent spreading MRSA infections.
  5. Below are some recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
    • Keep taking any antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. Do no't take half-doses or stop before you complete your prescribed course.
    • Clean your hands often, especially before and after changing your wound dressing or bandage.
    • People who live with you should clean their hands often as well.
    • Keep any wounds clean and change bandages as instructed until healed.
    • Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
    • Wash and dry your clothes and bed linens in the warmest temperatures recommended on the labels.
    • Tell your health care providers that you have MRSA. This includes home health nurses and aides, therapists, and personnel in doctors' offices.
    • Your doctor may have more instructions for you.

For more information visit:

To view reports on MRSA infections in Illinois, see “State Reports of Current Interest”.