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ONU Responds to MRSA Concerns

Nov 1, 2007

Staph infections, specifically drug-resistant MRSA infections, are becoming a serious concern. However, protecting yourself from MRSA can be as simple as washing your hands, keeping any cuts or scrapes covered and clean and not sharing personal items.

How Is ONU Responding?
Keeping Ohio Northern students, faculty and staff safe and healthy is a priority for the University.
With the confirmation of community-associated MRSA in the region, ONU is taking a number of steps to reinforce its ongoing programs to provide a healthy environment
• We've placed posters emphasizing hand washing and other safety measures around campus and in residence halls.
• We've added several sanitizing stations to the dining room.
• Food service employees continue to take part in monthly food-safety and clean-hands training.
• Building operations and custodial employees undergo in-service training on the proper use of disinfectants and methods for disinfecting restrooms and surfaces such as hand railings, door handles, trash can lids, drinking fountain handles, light switches, phones and other areas.
• We've increased the scheduled cleaning and disinfection of restrooms and locker rooms.

What is Staph?
Staph (Staphylococcus) is a common form of bacteria. The genus includes 31 species, many of which can be found on human skin, mucous membranes and in the soil. Most are totally harmless.
Some can cause minor illness such as folliculitis, boils, styes or abscesses if they enter the body through a cut or other break in the skin. Toxins from staphylococcus bacteria can grow on improperly stored food and cause food poisoning.
Because staphylococcus is bacteria, infections can be treated with antibiotics.
For one species, Staphylococcus aureus, repeated use of antibiotics has caused the strain to become drug-resistant. For a number of years, this drug-resistant strain was seen almost exclusively in hospitals.

What About MRSA?
Currently health and community officials are concerned about an increase in Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections found outside hospitals. A confirmed case of MRSA infection has been successfully treated in the Ada Village Schools.
Because the MRSA strain of the bacteria can survive on dry surfaces and can enter the body through any break in the skin, such as a cut or scrape, it can be easily transmitted between otherwise healthy individuals. Outbreaks have been reported in schools, gyms and day care centers. A growing number of deaths are being attributed to MRSA infections. However, most healthy individuals can be successfully treated if the infection is recognized in its early stages.

What Does MRSA look like?
WebMD describes it this way: In otherwise healthy people with no recent history of hospitalization, MRSA often appears as a pimple or boil that can be red, swollen and painful. The lesion may also have pus or other drainage. Draining the lesion in the doctor's office may be the only treatment needed for localized skin infections, but doctors may also treat skin infections with oral antibiotics that are not resisted by MRSA.

How Do I Know If I'm Infected?
If you have a cut or other wound, pimple, "spider-bite" or boil that is red, swollen or painful, you should see your health care provider. ONU students can visit the Student Health Center for evaluation. ONU faculty and staff should see their private health care provider. People with weakened immunity - the very young, elderly and those with chronic diseases - are especially at risk and should immediately seek care.

How Can I Prevent Infection?
Wash your hands!
Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Use soap and water and slowly recite the alphabet to ensure that you wash for the recommended length of time.
When you have a cut or scrape, keep it clean and covered with a clean bandage.
Don't touch other people's wounds or bandages. (There's a reason health care workers wear gloves.)
Don't share personal items like towels, soap or razors.
Keep restrooms, gym and locker rooms clean and sanitized.

If you do have an infection, keep the infected area covered. Wash your clothing, bedding and towels in hot water to prevent spreading the infection. Always follow your doctor's orders when taking medication and caring for wounds.

Learn more from the Ohio Department of Health

and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



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