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MRSA: easy steps to prevent infection
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There has been much media attention recently about MRSA, a specific antibiotic resistant staph infection occurring throughout our nation. The Effingham County school system is concerned about updating and clarifying the information to help increase understanding and how to prevent the infection.

Since a letter to parents on Oct. 30, there has had one positive, physician-diagnosed case in the school system. That student has since gotten a doctor’s release to return to school.

Remember, there is a difference between a “staph” infection and MRSA infection. The bacteria, Staphylococcus Aureus, commonly known as “staph”, are normally found on the skin and in the nose of a healthy person. It has been around a long time.

Staph is passed from person to person by direct contact with skin or by contact with a contaminated item. The bacteria can enter the body through a break in the skin and sometimes causes infection. The main way to prevent a staph infection or any infection, is to wash hands frequently with soap and water and to care for wounds properly.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a specific type of staph infection that is resistant to some antibiotics and can cause serious illness. MRSA may appear as a skin infection that looks like a pimple, boil or sore, and may be red, swollen, painful and contain pus. Someone with these symptoms should contact their health care provider promptly. MRSA is capable of being transmitted to others and is treatable. Treatment is most successful when started early. It is usually not necessary to miss school or work as long as the infection has been diagnosed and treated by a physician, there is no fever, and the wound is covered with a clean, dry dressing.

As a parent or guardian, you can help prevent staph infections by encouraging your children and other household members to follow these guidelines:
• Wash hands often. Thorough hand washing is key.
• Seek prompt medical attention if a cut or sore becomes red, oozes, causes pain or doesn’t heal. Report to your school health office also.
• Keep cuts and sores clean and covered.
• Shower and change clothes after sports and other physical activities and promptly launder dirty clothes
• Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, razors, and sports equipment

As always, the Effingham County School System is doing everything possible to prevent staph infections in schools. It is following the CDC guidelines regarding MRSA and continually works to ensure the health and safety of students and staff. For example, students are taught to follow good hygiene practices. Schools perform environmental surface cleaning with disinfectants.

Also, school officials routinely consult with the Effingham County Health Department and the Coastal Health District. In addition, schools rely on parent communication to report positive diagnosis in order to safely care for your child as well as prevent the spread of infection in the schools and community.