Get Schooled looks at MRSA.
October 29, 2007
Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, infections have been featured in several news stories lately, including reports of cases in local schools. As of Friday, 12 confirmed cases had been reported in schools, most of them linked to athletes. Statewide, the number is more than 40. Here is some information about MRSA and how to avoid getting or spreading infections.
Q: What is Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus?
A: Staphylococcus aureus, called staph, is a common type of bacteria found on the skin and in the nose and lungs of healthy people. It acts as a hitchhiker most of the time, causing no harm, but if a person gets a cut or other wound, or an illness that weakens the lining of the lungs, an infection can occur. Most staph infections respond to penicillin and similar antibiotics. MRSA is resistant to penicillin and related antibiotics, so other drugs must be used to treat it.
Q: How do you get an MRSA infection?
A: Staph bacteria, including MRSA, are spread by close contact with infected people or the things they touch. The bacteria are not spread through the air.
Q: How many MRSA infection cases have been reported by local schools?
A: As of Oct. 26, six medically confirmed MRSA infections had been reported by local schools. Only one person was hospitalized. All those with infections are receiving, or have completed, treatment.
Q: What are local schools doing about it?
A: They are working with local health officials to educate teachers, coaches, athletic directors and students about staph infections. School custodians are cleaning locker rooms, weight rooms and other common athletic areas and shared athletic equipment, with hospital-grade disinfectants. Schools also are encouraging students to follow simple prevention measures.
Q: What can I do to prevent an infection?
A: Health officials say the best way to prevent infection is to wash your hands frequently; avoid sharing personal items such as towels, razors, sports equipment and make-up; and cover wounds. If a wound becomes red, painful or slow to heal, see a physician.
Q: Where can I get more information?
A: If you have questions about what your school is doing, or want to report a medically confirmed case of MRSA infection, contact your school administrator or nurse. For more information about MRSA, visit the Virginia Department of Health Web site, which contains information about the bacteria and infection prevention measures: Sources: Virginia Department of Health; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get Schooled! Have an education question that you'd like us to explore? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 757-247-4668.