Photo by Tashieka Hammond
Student Health Services encourage students to take
precautions to guard themselves against Methicillin
MRSA protection urged
By Tashieka Hammond
Assistant Photo Editor
During the last few weeks there have been reports in Robeson County of the skin infection Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, also called MRSA.
Cora Bullard, director of Student Health Services, has seen a few cases on campus.
“What people don’t understand is this is not the first time we’ve had this problem. There were a couple cases here last year,” she said. “Students just need to be aware of MRSA and take extra precautions.”
MRSA is more commonly spread at universities by using the same razors, towels and not cleaning gym equipment before and after usage.
The university has taken steps to help keep the spread of MRSA away from UNCP by placing hand washing posters in bathrooms and buildings.
The Campbell Fitness Center and the Caton Field House also practice procedures to deal with the potential spread of MRSA.
Disinfectant spray is available to anyone using gym equipment. Instructions are given to wipe down the equipment before and after use.
Hand sanitizer, towels and posters explaining prevention techniques are also located throughout both exercise facilities. All of the equipment is cleaned by staff every night with a disinfectant spray that kills Staphylococcus Aureus infections.
MRSA comes from Staphylococcus Aureus, or “Staph,” which is so common that 25-30 percent of people have it living on their skin at some point.
The infection cannot be treated with antibiotics, like penicillin, but there are other treatments available.
MRSA usually infects people who are in hospitals and long-term care settings, but over the past 10 years it has become more of a problem outside of health care settings, in schools and universities.
The infection usually occurs when bacteria gets in through a small cut or scrape but many people carry it on their skin and never get sick.
Staph and MRSA are usually manifested as skin infections, such as pimples, boils or insect bites and can occur in healthy people.
The infected area is often red, swollen and painful. It may also contain pus or other drainage. If the infection is not treated with the right antibiotics, more serious skin infections will develop.
With proper skin care and antibiotics, MRSA is curable because the infection is so mild. The infection is spread through direct physical contact with an infected person or by touching objects such clothing or sharing personal products.
Student health services has recommended following these steps as well:
• Wash hands frequently.
• Shower after physical activity.
• Never share personal hygiene items.
• Cover any open sore on the skin when involved in contact sports or using exercise equipment.
• Report any suspicious sores, pimple, boils, or open areas to a coach, trainer, Student Health Services or another health professional.
• Wipe surfaces of equipment before and after each use with disinfectant spray that is labeled as specifically effective in killing Staphylococcus Aureus.
• Use a clean towel as a barrier between bare skin and surfaces like weight benches.
• Immediately shower with soap and water after each game, meet or practice.
• Keep abrasions or cuts covered with a clean dry bandage.
• Change bandages at least daily.
• Athletes with draining lesions should not participate in contact sports.
“Soap and water hand washing is the first line of defense to protect against any type of infection,” Bullard said.