2009-02-26 / Features

MRSA Questions, Answer s

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in schools
From Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

What type of infections does MRSA cause?

• 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 Cs, are as follows: crowding, frequent skin-toskin contact, compromised skin (i.e., cuts or abrasions), contaminated items and surfaces, and lack of cleanliness.

• Locations where the 5 Cs are common include schools, dormitories, military barracks, households, correctional facilities, and daycare centers.

How do I protect myself from getting MRSA?

• Practice good hygiene (e.g., keep hands clean by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and shower immediately after participating in exercise);

• Cover skin trauma such as abrasions or cuts with a clean dry bandage until healed;

• Avoid sharing personal items (e.g., towels, razors) that come into contact with bare skin; and use a barrier (e.g., clothing or a towel) between skin and shared equipment such as weight-training benches;

• Maintain 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.

Should the school be notified that my child has an MRSA infection?

• Consult the 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.

I have an MRSA skin infection. How do I prevent spreading it to others?

• Cover the wound. Keep wounds that are draining or have pus covered with clean, dry bandages until healed. Follow healthcare provider's instructions on proper care of the wound. Pus from infected wounds can contain staph, including MRSA, so keeping the infection covered will help prevent the spread to others. Bandages and tape can be discarded with the regular trash.

• Clean hands frequently. Anyone in close contact should wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcoholbased hand sanitizer, especially after changing the bandage or touching the infected wound.

• Do not share personal items such as towels, washcloths, razors, clothing, or uniforms, that may have had contact with the infected wound or bandage.

Return to top