Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are gram positive cocci that are resistant to a number of antibiotics. MRSA can colonize the nares of asymptomatic patients. Colonization with MRSA increases a patient’s risk for a staph infection following invasive medical or surgical procedures. Appropriate screening and subsequent contact precautions can decrease the rate of transmission from asymptomatic carriers to other patients in a hospital. The MRSA screen uses PCR to detect DNA sequences specific to the MRSA genome. This PCR test is helpful in screening for colonization, not for diagnosis of infection or guiding therapy.Individuals referred from residential institutions, such as nursing homes, have an increased incidence of colonization by MRSA.
The assay is performed on a nasal swab daily. The turn-around time is ~ 24 hours.