MRSA screen



MRSA growing on MRSA chromogenic agar 

  • For current guidance please see Infection Control Policy on MRSA and Guide to MRSA Screening poster
  • New positive hospital cases will be notified by the Infection Control team
  • Dry swabs (no transport medium) and standard charcoal transport swabs are both suitable for MRSA screening, but dry swabs are cheaper
  • The following sites are screened:
    • nose and groin
    • any wounds (including umbilicus in neonates) and entry sites
    • urine (if catheterised)
    • sputum (if productive)
    • other swabs as directed by Infection Control Nurses
    • swabs from other sites (e.g. axilla, throat) will not be processed, unless these are required by another healthcare provider and this is made clear on the request form

Sample requirements

Dry swab - these should only be used for MRSA screens. Moisten swabs with sterile saline or water before use.

Do not tip saline/water into the swab tube.



Standard charcoal transport swab

Place swab into transport medium




30 mL sterile Universal for urine. 

Urine samples sent in red capped 30 mL sterile universal containers are also accepted.





60 mL wide-mouthed container for sputum

Dry swab for MRSA screens


Charcoal transport swab

30mL sterile universal container

60 mL wide-mouthed container

Required information

  • Reason for screening e.g. admission, transfer, post-decolonisation check, contact
  • If testing is required for another heathcare provider


Store and transport at room temperature

Turnaround time

Negative: 1 - 2 days

Positive: 2 - 4 days

Page last reviewed: 23/08/2014