One Duquesne student has been diagnosed with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). The student is under a physician’s care, following instructions for preventing the spread of the infection and responding well to treatment.
What is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MRSA is a type of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics. It is commonly found in the nose and on the skin. An estimated 20% – 30% of the general population are “colonized” and have Staph present on or in the body without causing illness. Infections may occur when Staph penetrates the skin.
What are the symptoms?
MRSA infections may result in redness, warmth, pimples or boils, with or without pus. MRSA can enter the bloodstream and cause a blood infection or more serious illness.
How is MRSA treated?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most MRSA infections are treatable with antibiotics. Staph skin infections also may be treated by draining the abscess or boil and may not require antibiotics. Skin boils or abscesses should only be drained by a trained health care provider. If other people you know or live with get the same infection, tell them to go to their health care provider.
Is MRSA contagious, and if so, how is it passed on to others?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, factors that have been associated with the spread of MRSA skin infections include close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, and poor hygiene.
How can I prevent passing MRSA to others?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends following these steps:
Cover your wound. Keep wounds that are draining or have pus covered with clean, dry bandages. Follow your health care provider’s instructions on proper care of the wound. Pus from infected wounds can contain staph and MRSA, so keeping the infection covered will help prevent the spread to others. Bandages or tape can be discarded with the regular trash.
Clean your hands. You, your family, and others in close contact should wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for at least 15 seconds, 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 soiled sheets, towels, and clothes with water and laundry detergent. Drying clothes in a hot dryer, rather than air-drying, also helps kill bacteria in clothes.
Talk to your doctor. Tell any health care providers who treat you that you have or had a staph or MRSA skin infection.
Are there other ways to prevent MRSA infections?
- Wash soiled sheets, towels and clothes with water and laundry detergent, and dry the laundry in a hot dryer.
- Use a barrier between skin and shared athletic equipment.
- Wipe surfaces of athletic equipment before and after each use.
- Inform health care providers who treat you that you may have an MRSA infection.
What is the University doing to prevent the spread of the infection?
An enhanced cleaning protocol has been activated in the residence hall where the student lives. The protocol includes using a chemical-induced jet wash and bleach mopping in the restrooms, and spraying all fixtures and hand contact areas with a hospital-grade disinfectant designed to kill MRSA bacteria.
It is safe for other students to live in the same residence hall?
Yes. The student is following a physician’s orders to prevent the spread of the infection. However, students should practice good hygiene and follow the prevention measures listed above.
What should I do if I think I have MRSA?
Contact your health care provider.
Should I/my child/student be screened for MRSA?
If symptoms are present, contact your health care provider to discuss appropriate actions.
Who should I contact at Duquesne University if I have additional questions or concerns?
The Duquesne University Health Service Office at 412.396.1650.
Sources: Allegheny County Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention