About MRSA Infection
Thompson School District Addresses Concerns About MRSA Infection:
INTRODUCTION-What is MRSA
Staphylococcus aureus (“staph”) are bacteria that are commonly found in the noses an on the skin of healthy people. When staph are present on or in the body without causing illness it is called “colonization.” At any given time, from 20% to 50% of the population are colonized with staph bacteria. These bacteria can occasionally get through the skin barrier and cause skin or soft tissue infection. Although most such infections are not severe, staph can also cause more serious illness such as blood or lung infections.
Staph with resistance to the antibiotic methicillin (or oxacillin/nafcillin) are known as methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus or “MRSA.” Resistance means that a particular antibiotic will not work against those bacteria (and susceptible means that the antibiotic will work against those bacteria). MRSA was first identified in the United States in the late 1960s and has primarily been seen in the hospital setting among older and sicker people.
Since the late 1990s, a number of studies have demonstrated that MRSA colonization and infection are now being seen among healthy people in the community who do not have these healthcare-associated risk factors. It appears that these people have acquired MRSA in the community, rather than in a healthcare setting. Compared to the more typical hospital-acquired MRSA infections, these community-acquired MRSA infections tend to occur among younger people, and to involve less serious skin and soft tissue infections. Additionally, these MRSA strains are susceptible to many other antibiotics besides penicillins and cephalosporins. No data are currently available on community-acquired MRSA infections in Colorado.
MRSA are not known to cause more frequent or severe infections than staph strains that are susceptible; however, infections caused by MRSA may be more difficult to treat because there are fewer antibiotic choices. Additionally, antibiotics typically prescribed for healthy persons without known MRSA risk factors are often not effective for a MRSA infection. Effective antibiotics may not be prescribed until the results of culture and antibiotic susceptibility testing are known. This delay can allow the infection to progress.
There are no current clusters or outbreaks in the Thompson School District.
Schools and Health Departments are working closely together. The school division has a maintenance program in place to ensure that all necessary cleaning is done to provide a safe, supportive learning environment. Per the Larimer County Health Department, schools do not need to be closed for special cleaning in the event of a case because there is not much opportunity for transmission in the general school population.
The overwhelming number of MRSA infections have been in the skin and soft tissue; although serious, these infections are not life-threatening. These skin infections can be treated. That is why it is important to seek medical attention early, and if necessary, have a culture done.
So far the Thompson School District has taken a number of proactive measures:
- We posted the CDC FAQs and a Q&A form on our web site
- We also posted helpful tips about Staph with an emphasis on good hygiene to prevent infection.
- We provided principals, secretaries, health office staff, and high school athletic directors MRSA facts and steps to prevent outbreaks
Schools are cleaned regularly with a broad-spectrum micro-organism-killing solution that is effective against Staph aureus, including MRSA. Our custodial staff is aware of this infection and its implications for our staff and students.
Thompson School District routinely works with the Larimer County Health Department to monitor illnesses, to look for trends, and to determine when specific local responses to significant increases in illness are required.
Parents and students can help by encouraging and practicing proper hygiene, especially:
- Wash hands and body thoroughly and regularly with soap and water.
- Keep clothes clean.
- Wash cuts and scrapes and keep them covered with bandages.
- Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
- For further information or specific questions call the Health Department at 970-498-6700.
Information for Athletic Teams