Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – Outbreak

Testing Indications

If you suspect an outbreak, contact your local Health Unit and the PHO laboratory Medical Microbiologist.

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

Any of: swabs of nares, perineal/rectal swabs, skin lesions

Amies charcoal transport medium (GC kit)

Submission and Collection Notes


Indicate the following on the Reference Bacteriology Requisition:

  • symptoms
  • onset date 
  • clinical/epidemiology information

Timing of Specimen Collection

Specimens should be collected during the acute phase of illness.

Swab should be received within 3 days of collection.

Preparation Prior to Transport

Label the specimen with the patient’s full name, date of collection and one other unique identifier such as the patient’s date of birth or Health Card Number. Failure to provide this information may result in rejection or testing delay.

Special Instructions

Place specimen in biohazard bag and seal. Specimens should be stored at 2-8°C following collection and shipped to PHO laboratory on ice packs.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

MRSA culture is set up daily, Monday to Friday.

Turnaround time is up to 3 days from receipt by PHO laboratory.


Results are reported to the ordering physician or health care provider as indicated on the requisition.

Specimens that are positive for MRSA are to be reported to the Medical Officer of Health as per Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Test Methods

Swabs are set up on bacterial culture medium for identification. Further tests may include antimicrobial susceptibility as well as genetic and molecular typing.

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Laboratory Services

Updated 25 Sep 2019