Seal of Illinois

Illinois Hospital Report Card

and Consumer Guide to Health Care

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. Sometimes, MRSA can infect the blood and cause serious illness and even death. 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.


Several strategies for health care providers can be employed to reduce risk of this infection:

  1. Practice good hygiene and wash hands regularly; scrub for 15 seconds with soap and water.
  2. Clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after caring for every patient.
  3. Whenever possible, a hospitalized patient with MRSA should be placed in a private room or share a room only with someone else who also has MRSA.
  4. Contact precautions should be established, requiring protective gloves and gowns to be worn while in the patient’s room.  
  5. Visitors to a patient’s room who has MRSA may also be asked to wear protective gloves and gowns while visiting.
  6. When leaving the room of a patient with MRSA, personnel and visitors should remove their protective gloves and gowns and wash their hands as described above.
  7. Ensure adequate cleaning and disinfection of equipment and the environment surrounding patients with this infection.

What can you do as a patient?

  1. Avoid sharing personal items such as razors or towels.
  2. Keep cuts clean and covered.
  3. 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. Find tips for starting this conversation at:
  4. 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.
  5. Make sure you get instructions for home care of wounds or catheters before you are discharged.
  6. You should ask for information about how to prevent another MRSA infection and how to prevent spreading MRSA infections.
  7. Below are some recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
    • Keep taking any antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. Do not 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”.