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Albright College

TIP OF THE MONTH
October

Preventing MRSA Infection

What is it?

Community-associated MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) has become a growing public health concern. It is difficult to track and difficult to treat. The combination of virulence and resistance to new strains of Staph aureus has produced high morbidity and mortality rates. Presently there are three types of MRSA infections which include nosocomial MRSA, community-onset MRSA with health care-associated risk factors and community-onset MRSA without health-care associated risk factors. Community-associated MRSA infections are differentiated from hospital-acquired infections using strict criteria. All types are capable of causing epidemics of furunculosis (boils) and skin and soft-tissue infections. Infections may occur as a result of tissue invasion or injury. Community-associated skin infections often appear as spider bites, meaning they are red and swollen.

Approximately 25% to 30% of the population is colonized (the person is a carrier) with Staph aureus and of these, 1% to 7% are colonized with MRSA (Hedden, 2007). MRSA is transmitted primarily through direct contact. It is not spread through the air. Factors associated with the spread of the infection include close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin (cuts or abrasions), contact with contaminated items or surfaces, poor hygiene and crowded living conditions.

Strategies to prevent MRSA transmission:

  • Practice good general hygiene - wash hands with soap and dry thoroughly

  • Treat abrasions and laceration - clean minor wounds immediately and apply an antibiotic ointment. Infected or pus-filled wounds require the attention of a health care provider.

  • Prevention at exercise facilities - use a towel to create a barrier between surfaces and bare skin, launder towels and clothing after each use, wipe equipment with disinfectant before and after use, shower with soap after every visit to the facility, inspect skin regularly for abrasions, lacerations and wounds.

  • Reduce injury and exposure during athletic activity - use protective clothing and equipment to protect from skin trauma

  • Choose appropriate cleaning solutions - nonporous surfaces i.e. tile, stainless steel and linoleum use a 1:100 dilution of chlorine bleach and water or an EPA-registered detergent disinfectant suitable for the surface being cleaned. For wood surfaces use 1:10 solution of chlorine bleach and water and leave it on for at least 10 minutes. When using premixed products be sure that the product is active against Staphylococcus aureus, preferably MRSA.

Albright College has taken the Community-associated MRSA issue very seriously. In so doing several new protocols have been implemented. These protocols include: cleaning The Schumo Center for Fitness and Well-Being, the training room, locker rooms and residence halls with disinfectants that specifically treat MRSA. The athletes have received education regarding the transmission of MRSA. A MRSA training session will be held for the custodial staff and anyone found to have a medical problem that could be caused by MRSA is referred to the Gable Health Center for prompt evaluation and appropriate treatment.

Prevention is the key to avoiding this difficult infection.

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