Information Regarding Staph Infections-
If you have been watching, or reading the news lately you have no doubt come across articles about Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA also called the superbug is a common skin bacteria that has been around a very long time. What makes MRSA more problematic now is that some strains have become antibiotic resistant which make advance cases more difficult to treat. The intent of this information is to help inform and protect the students and families of the Greenville Area School District from MRSA.
MRSA is a skin infection that may appear as pus filled sacks or boils that are red, painful, and swollen with or without drainage. The MRSA infection most often occurs at the site of skin trauma, such as cuts and abrasions or in areas that are covered with body hair. Most MRSA infections are successfully treated by drainage of pus with or without the use of antibiotics. If you have a skin lesion that will not heal, be sure to see a health care provider to be evaluated.
MRSA skin infections can occur anywhere; but some common settings make it easier for MRSA to be transmitted. The most common ways to transmit MRSA are sometime referred to as The 5Cs. The 5 Cs included crowding, frequently skin to skin contact, compromised skin integrity, contaminated surfaces, and lack of cleanliness.
These contagious skin infections are usually easy to treat with inexpensive antibiotics according to information from the County Health Departments, though some staph bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA). We are in contact with the health department and also communicates with the all staff at GHS providing timely advice and informational literature. As in any year, we are seeing isolated cases that are most likely not school related; however, we are taking every precaution and preventative measure in regard to the spread of staph infection. In regard to the medias attention involving staph infections we want you to know the measures that are being taken to prevent any spread of infections.
What type of infections does MRSA cause?
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. 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).
Almost all MRSA skin infections can be effectively treated by drainage of pus with or without antibiotics. More serious infections, such as pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or bone infections, are very rare in healthy people who get MRSA skin infections.
How is MRSA transmitted?
MRSA is usually transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with shared items or surfaces that have come into contact with someone else's infection (e.g., towels, used bandages).
In what settings do MRSA skin infections occur?
MRSA skin infections can occur anywhere.
Some settings have factors that make it easier for MRSA to be transmitted.
These factors, referred to as the 5 C's, are as follows: Crowding, frequent skin-to-skin Contact, Compromised skin (i.e., cuts or abrasions), Contaminated items and surfaces, and lack of Cleanliness.
Locations where the 5 C's are common include schools, dormitories, military barracks, households, correctional facilities, and daycare centers.
How do I protect myself from getting MRSA?
You can protect yourself by:
practicing good hygiene (e.g., keeping your hands clean by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and showering immediately after participating in exercise);
covering skin trauma such as abrasions or cuts with a clean dry bandage until healed;
avoiding sharing personal items (e.g., towels, razors) that come into contact with your bare skin; and using a barrier (e.g., clothing or a towel) between your skin and shared equipment such as weight-training benches;
maintaining a clean environment by establishing cleaning procedures for frequently touched surfaces and surfaces that come into direct contact with people's skin.
Should schools close because of an MRSA infection?
The decision to close a school for any communicable disease should be made by school officials in consultation with local and/or state public health officials. However, in most cases, it is not necessary to close schools because of an MRSA infection in a student. It is important to note that MRSA transmission can be prevented by simple measures such as hand hygiene and covering infections.
Covering infections will greatly reduce the risks of surfaces becoming contaminated with MRSA.
When MRSA skin infections occur, cleaning and disinfection should be performed on surfaces that are likely to contact uncovered or poorly covered infections.
Cleaning surfaces with detergent-based cleaners or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants is effective at removing MRSA from the environment.
It is important to read the instruction labels on all cleaners to make sure they are used safely and appropriately.
Environmental cleaners and disinfectants should not be used to treat infections.
The EPA provides a list of EPA-registered products effective against MRSA: http://epa.gov/oppad001/chemregindex.htm
Should the entire school community be notified of every MRSA infection?
Usually, it should not be necessary to inform the entire school community about a single MRSA infection. When an MRSA infection occurs within the school population, the school nurse and school physician should determine, based on their medical judgment, whether some or all students, parents and staff should be notified. Consultation with the local public health authorities should be used to guide this decision.
Remember that staphylococcus (staph) bacteria, including MRSA, have been and remain a common cause of skin infections.
Should the school be notified that my child has an MRSA infection?
Consult with your school about its policy for notification of skin infections.
Should students with MRSA skin infections be excluded from attending school?
Unless directed by a physician, students with MRSA infections should not be excluded from attending school.
Exclusion from school and sports activities 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.
I have an MRSA skin infection. How do I prevent spreading it to others?
Cover your wound.
Clean your hands frequently. You, your family, and others in close contact should wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after changing the bandage or touching the infected wound.
Do not share personal items. Avoid sharing personal items, such as towels, washcloths, razors, clothing, or uniforms, that may have had contact with the infected wound or bandage. Wash sheets, towels, and clothes that become soiled with water and laundry detergent. Use a dryer to dry clothes completely.