Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Infections (MRSA)
Staphylococcus aureus ("staph") are bacteria commonly found in the noses and on the skin of healthy people. Staph infections have been around for a long time, causing mild to severe illness. Staph with resistance to the antibiotic methicillin (and other related antibiotics) is known as methiciliin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or "MRSA." Resistance means that a particular antibiotic will not work against those bacteria.
Staph that is present on or in the body without causing illness is called "colonization." At any given time, from 20 to 50 percent of the general population is colonized with staph bacteria; some may be MRSA while others are not antibiotic-resistant.
Staph is passed from person to person through direct contact with skin or through contact with contaminated items. The bacteria may live in people's noses and on their skin and most of the time does not cause any problem. Staph can enter the body through breaks in the skin and sometimes cause infections. Mild infections may look like a pimple or a boil and can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections or surgical wound infections. The main ways to prevent staph infections are to wash hands and care for wounds properly
Advice for Parents
Clean wounds and cover them with a clean, dry bandage. Wounds that do not heal properly need medical attention. The only way to determine if an infection is caused by MRSA is through laboratory testing ordered by a physician or other health care provider. Immediately notify the school nurse of any suspected or confirmed cases of MRSA. Teach children to wash their hands regularly, such as before eating and after toileting. Be sure your family members use antibiotics properly. Take all that are prescribed, even if the symptoms stop before the prescription is used up. Do not share prescriptions. Children who participate in sporting events should wash their hands after each practice and game. They should not share equipment, uniforms, towels or other personal items (e.g., razors). Wash uniforms and towels with hot water and detergent after each use.
More information about MRSA can be found at the Center For Disease Control website.