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MRSA (Staphyloccal Infection)

MRSA (Staphyloccal Infection) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics including methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin.

At-Risk Populations

MRSA infections can occur in any geographic location and anywhere on a personís body and can affect anyone. Historically, MRSA infections occurred in hospitalized patients, but now these infections are common in the community. The biggest risk factor for MRSA infection is open or broken skin (such as a wound or surgical site); however, MRSA infections can occur even on areas of the skin where there is no obvious wound or break in the skin.

Symptoms

MRSA in healthcare settings usually causes more severe and potentially life-threatening infections, such as bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, or pneumonia. The signs and symptoms will vary by the type and stage of the infection.

In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections that may appear as pustules or boils which often are red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. They often first look like spider bites or bumps that are red, swollen, and painful. These skin infections commonly occur at sites of visible skin trauma, such as cuts and abrasions, and areas of the body covered by hair (e.g., back of neck, groin, buttock, armpit, beard area of men).

How It Spreads

MRSA is almost always spread through direct skin-to-skin contact.

MRSA has become more common in hospitals because of the heavy use of antibiotics, which contributes to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria. It spreads easily if there are not good hand-washing practices in place. A new strain of MRSA has evolved in the community, and people who have not been in the hospital are getting the infection.

As long as the germ stays only on the personís skin, MRSA is not usually a problem. However, if the germ gets inside the body through a cut or a scrape, it can cause a skin infection, which usually starts as a boil. The bacteria can also spread to the blood, bones or vital organs, which can cause serious complications and even death.

Prevention

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water. When soap and warm water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel (at least 60% alcohol).
  • Shower after periods of physical activity such as gym class or sports practices/games.
  • Do not share personal items like towels, razors, water bottles, washcloths, clothing or uniforms. (Do not use gym clothes that have been collected in a lost and found box.)
  • Practice and encourage good skin care. Staph infections start when staph enter the body through a cut, scrape or other break in the skin.
  • If you are an athlete, remember to wear a shirt when using equipment and wipe sweat off equipment/mats with your own clean towel after exercising.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered until they are healed.
  • Avoid contact with other peopleís cuts, scrapes, bandages, or dressings.
  • ē Regularly clean sinks, showers, and toilets with an EPA-approved detergent disinfectant.
  • Disinfect athletic equipment between users.
  • Launder clothing and linens (including sheets, towels, uniforms, and undergarments) in hot water (140 degrees or more) and the laundry detergent you normally use. Dry on the hottest setting that the fabric will allow. Bleach can also be used as an extra precaution.
  • Tell any healthcare providers who treat you if you have or have had a staph or MRSA skin infection.
  • If you think you may have a MRSA infection or you have a skin infection that does not improve, contact your healthcare provider.
  • Clean athletic equipment and surfaces underneath mats with an EPA-approved detergent disinfectant or with a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 quart of water between users.

Treatment

Most MRSA infections are treated by good wound and skin care that includes keeping the area clean and dry, washing hands after caring for the area, carefully disposing of any bandages, and allowing your body to heal. Sometimes treatment requires the use of antibiotics. If antibiotics are needed, it is important to take all the doses you are given unless your doctor tells you to stop. If the infection has not improved in a few days after seeing your doctor, contact your doctor again.

Information for Schools

Unless directed by a physician, students with MRSA skin infections should not be excluded from attending school. Exclusion from school should be reserved for those with wound drainage (“pus”) that cannot be covered and contained with a clean, dry bandage and for those who cannot maintain good personal hygiene. Students with active infections should be excluded from activities where skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur (i.e., sports) until their infections are healed.

Guidelines for Cleaning/Disinfecting

  • It is not necessary to close schools to “disinfect” them when MRSA infections occur. MRSA skin infections are transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact and contact with surfaces that have come into contact with someone else’s infection. Covering infected cuts, scrapes, or lesions will greatly reduce the risks of surfaces becoming contaminated with MRSA.
  • Equipment and surfaces should be cleaned with an EPA-approved detergent disinfectant. For a list of EPA-registered products effective against MRSA, visit http://epa.gov/oppad001/chemregindex.htm.
  • Athletic equipment should be cleaned with an EPA-approved detergent disinfectant or with a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 quart of water between users. It is also important that surfaces underneath mats be disinfected. Athletes should remember to wear a shirt when using equipment and wipe sweat off equipment/mats with their own clean towel after exercising.
  • Uniforms should be washed after every use. Use hot water (140 degrees or more) and the laundry detergent you normally use. Dry on the hottest setting the fabric will allow. Bleach can also be used as an extra precaution. As a reminder, students should not be sharing personal items like uniforms, athletic gear, towels or toiletries.