Three patients at Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital have tested positive for the superbug known as MRSA, according to the hospital's medical director.

All three patients are on Unit 3, a medical nursing unit.

"We have been screening all patients currently on the nursing unit, as well as individuals being admitted to the unit for MRSA," Dr. Hussam Azzam said in a written statement.

"Patients testing positive are being placed on isolation precautions and staff have heightened infection control measures, including enhanced cleaning. We have also put additional precautions in place for patients being admitted to Unit 3 to ensure they do not acquire MRSA."

QEH has stepped up its precautions with increased cleaning and by posting additional signage about MRSA and hygiene throughout the facility.

Anyone who comes to the hospital, including visitors and those going in for tests or X-rays, is asked to clean their hands before and after entering a patient's room, a department, and upon entering and leaving the facility.

MRSA, which stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a bacterium that is resistant to certain types of antibiotics. These bacteria are most commonly spread by direct and also indirect contact via hands.

Patients who test positive for these antibiotic resistant bacteria can either be colonized or infected. Colonization occurs when the bacteria lives on one or more body sites with no signs and symptoms of illness. Infection occurs when bacteria gets past a person's normal defences and the individual becomes ill.