The recent MRSA infection scare at a local high school proved to be a false alarm. Nevertheless, it flagged an important point: Places with frequent sharing and close interactions–like schools, dorms and daycare centers–pose a higher risk for spreading community-associated Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Contact sports pose another risk because skin cuts and bruises make it easy for MRSA to enter the body. Sweat also helps the bacteria travel on the skin.
MRSA is a type of common bacteria that may cause serious infection because some antibiotics can’t fight it. However, other antibiotics are effective against it.
The usual symptom for community-associated MRSA infection is redness and swelling that may contain pus. Fever can also develop in more serious cases. If you have similar symptoms, see your physician. Some cases require only antibiotics and others also need drainage of the infection. Do not try to drain the infection yourself, because that can spread the infection.
Most MRSA infections are responsive to medical treatment. More serious and possibly life-threatening conditions can develop. While these are extremely rare, it is yet another reason to get evaluated by your doctor.
Tips to Prevent MRSA Infection
To help prevent MRSA infection, the CDC recommends frequent hand-washing with soap and water or a sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. This is especially important when you have been out in public. The CDC also advises:
- Showering after a gym workout or participating in sports practice or game.
- Placing a towel on workout machines and wiping it down after use.
- Covering any cut or scrape with a clean, dry bandage until it has healed.
- Keeping communal surfaces clean with disinfectant.
- Washing sheets, towels, and sports uniforms in hot water and dry them on high heat to kill any bacteria.
- Keeping towels, razors and similar items aside for your own personal use. Do not share them.
Addendum: View Dr. Spaeth’s MRSA interview on FiOS 1 News.