MRSA Health Alert
Many parents are concerned about recent news accounts concerning methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a type of “staph” infection that can cause skin infections that may be difficult to treat. To date, there have been two such cases reported in our district; one case at Harvey High School and one case at Chestnut Elementary School.
The skin condition most commonly looks like an infected pimple or boil and can worsen to include redness, warmth, swelling, pain, and discharge. It can be mistaken as a spider or insect bite. MRSA is spread by skin-to-skin contact, contact with drainage from the nose of a person infected, or contact with contaminated objects such as razors, soap, clothing, or towels.
Please be assured that PCLS and the Ohio Department of Health are using appropriate preventive measures to limit the spread of MRSA including:
- Enhancing MRSA awareness among faculty, staff, custodial staff coaches and students
- Continuing to promote good hygiene and hygienic practices throughout the school system
- Having school health workers work with students and parents to ensure early detection and prompt medical evaluation of any suspicious skin sores.
- Reviewing daily cleaning procedures to be sure they are being implemented as expected.
As parents and educators, we want to protect our children and ensure their safety. Please learn as much as you can about MRSA, be aware of possible symptoms and seek medical attention promptly if needed. Working together, we can minimize the health risk posed by MRSA.
Frequently asked questions about MRSA are listed below. Additional information about MRSA is available by clinking on the attached links (in the right margin) or contacting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_mrsa.html
or by visiting the Ohio Department of Health’s Web site at: http://www.odh.ohio.gov/. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT STAPH INFECTIONS
Who gets Staph infections?
Anyone can get a Staph infection. People are more likely to get a Staph infection if they have:
- Skin to skin contact with someone who has a Staph infection
- Contact with items and surfaces that have Staph on them
- Openings in their skin such as cuts or scrapes
- Crowded living conditions
- Poor hygiene
What are typical symptoms of MRSA?
Common signs of a skin infection include redness, warmth, swelling and tenderness. Often a MRSA infection will look like a spider bite, boil, abscess or pimple. If left untreated, it could progress into a more serious illness.
How is MRSA spread?
In outbreak situations, the environment has not played a significant role in the transmission of MRSA. Studies in health care and community settings show skin-to-skin contact, direct contact with infected wound drainage or contact with contaminated surfaces or things such as sports equipment as the likely sources of transmission. MRSA skin infections are not spread through the air.
How can students protect themselves from MRSA?
You can help prevent the spread of MRSA by practicing these guidelines and encouraging your children to do the same:
- Practicing good hygiene (e.g., keeping their hands clean by washing with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rubs, and showering after games and practices).
- Covering any open skin areas such as abrasions or cuts with clean dry bandages.
- Not sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
- Using barriers (e.g., clothing or towels) between skin and shared equipment
- If they have open wounds, NOT using whirlpools, hydrotherapy pools, cold tubs, swimming pools and other common tubs.
- Wiping surfaces of equipment before and after use.
- Getting tested if they think they may have MRSA.
Transmission of MRSA takes place when sharing contaminated material and objects, not skin contact during games and ordinary school activities. Therefore, federal, state and local recommendations for control of MRSA do not include the cancellation of practices or games.