MRSA infections

The recent media attention on an NHS student treated for MRSA (methicillin resistant staph aureus) has raised a lot of questions and concerns from parents about any risk of MRSA exposure for students at HOM School.        MRSA is not new.  MRSA has been recognized as a health problem since the 1960’s.  Staph infections are fairly commonplace.  What makes MRSA infection a more serious concern is its resistance to strong antibiotics, such as methicillin.  For years, MRSA was exclusively a hospital acquired infection.  In recent years, community associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) is becoming a more common occurrence.  About 1% of the population carries the MRSA bacteria on their skin or in their nose without any symptoms.  The problem occurs when MRSA bacteria enter an opening in the skin causing an infection.  Left untreated, infections can sometimes become systemic.  A systemic MRSA infection can be life threatening. 
       MRSA infections deserve media attention as a growing health concern in the community at large.  The problem, in a nutshell, is that the overuse of antibiotics has lead to resistant bacteria that are increasingly hard to treat.  However, the label “super bug” used in the media, has led many people to believe that this is a brand new threat, and also implies that it spreads differently than other bacterial infections. 
       We can protect children by continuing to teach good hand washing;  by covering any open area on the skin until it is scabbed;  by paying attention to any cut that appears infected (red, swollen, painful, draining or spreading lesions) and seeking prompt treatment;  by discouraging sharing of sports equipment and towels;  and also by not seeking or using antibiotics inappropriately. 
       At HOM, we will continue to teach hand washing and good hygiene to safeguard the health of our students and staff.  You can find excellent information on MRSA at www.kidshealth.org

Maddy Allen, HOM School Nurse   426-7672