During the 2007-08 school year there were several media reports regarding the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) skin infections. The Olathe School District wants to do everything possible to protect students and staff from MRSA skin infections. The following information will help parents and school officials prevent the spread of MRSA in schools.
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.
- 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?
Approximately 25 percent to 30 percent of the population are colonized (bacteria is present, but not causing an infection) with staph on their skin or in their nose, with 1 percent of the population being colonized with MRSA. Staph infections, including MRSA, are 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 (towels, used bandages, etc.).
In what settings do MRSA skin infections occur?
Crowding, frequent skin-to-skin contact, compromised skin (cuts or abrasions), contaminated items and surfaces, and lack of cleanliness are the most common settings.
How do I protect myself from getting MRSA?
- Practice good hygiene (keeping your hands clean by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and showering immediately after participating in exercise).
- Cover skin trauma such as abrasions or cuts with a clean dry bandage until healed.
- Avoid sharing personal items (towels, razors, etc.) that come into contact with your bare skin and use a barrier (clothing or a towel) between your skin and shared equipment, such as weight-training benches.
- All skin infections should be reported to the school nurse. Specific guidelines exist for participation in sports.
Covering infections will greatly reduce the risks of surfaces becoming contaminated with MRSA.
MRSA skin infections are transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact and contact with surfaces that have come into contact with someone else's infection. In general it is not necessary to close schools to disinfect them when MRSA infections occur.
Will I be notified if there is a case of MRSA in our building?
The district works closely with the Johnson County Health Department to determine the need for notification depending upon the population at risk and the activities involved.
Information about MRSA can be found online at the Centers for Disease Control website or by contacting your school nurse or Director of Health Services Sharon Morris, (913) 780-8231.