Recent studies have shown that MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus) is increasing both in the hospital and the community.  Here are the facts you need to know about MRSA.

Glossary:

Staph Aureus – is a form of bacteria that is commonly found on people’s skin and in their noses.  It is the most common cause of skin infection in the United States.

Methicillin – a type of antibiotic.

Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) – is a form of staph aureus that is resistant to some antibiotics, but still responds to many easily available antibiotics.

Community Acquired Infections – infections that are caught outside of the hospital setting.

Colonization – occurs when a person has staph on his skin or in his nose, but it does not cause any symptoms.  Thirty percent of people are colonized with ordianary Staph Aureus and will never get sick from it.  A much smaller percentage of people are colonized with MRSA and will also never get sick.

What is MRSA?

MRSA is a form of the bacteria staph aureus. It has been around for many years and mostly affects patients in the hospital with weakened immune systems.

Community acquired MRSA has also been around for many years.

There have been cases of MRSA in our local schools for years.

MRSA can be treated very effectively with local wound care – ie. cleaning, applying bacitracin and covering with a bandage.  SometimesMRSA will require oral antibiotics.

In very rare cases, especially when treatment is delayed or someone has a weak immune system, any infection can become more serious.

How Contagious is MRSA?

All staph infections, MRSA included, require direct contact with an infected or colonized person or with contaminated items such as towels, razors, linens, bars of soap, topical creams, used bandages or sports equipment.

Risk of infection within a classroom setting is extremely low.

Skin infections are more common among athletes because of close contact during games and in the locker room.

How do I prevent Staph/MRSA infections?

  • Wash your hands – especially before and after touching a cut or a pimple.
  • Don’t share personal items such as towels, razors, bar soap, clothing or sports equipment.
  • Keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered – Wash them twice a day with warm soapy  water, apply bacitracin and a bandaid. This prevents them from becoming infected by someone else’s germs, and it prevents you from spreading your germs.
  • Shower immediately after athletic games or practices.  Use liquid soap and water.  Don’t  share towels.
  • Take care of your skin.  Keep it dry when you are outside.  Moisturize nightly.

When should I call the doctor?

 If your child has a pimple, cut or bite that is getting red, swollen, hot or is draining pus, or your child develops a fever, you should make an appointment to be seen by the doctor.  Your child may need topical antibiotic, oral antibiotic, a culture for MRSA and or drainage of the wound.

If your child is being treated for a skin infection and there is no improvement in 48 hours, or if a fever develops you should arrange for a follow-up visit.

Further review of this topic can be found on the following websites:

New York State Department of Health

Center for Disease Control

New York Statewide School Health Services Center