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Staph/MRSA Information


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Many of the same precautions for cold and flu apply for the spread of these and other infectious diseases. If someone demonstrates symptoms of staph infections, please encourage him/her to visit the EIU Health Service for an evaluation and treatment.

Staphylococcus aureus, or staph, is a common germ that many people carry in their nasal passages, under fingernails or on their skin with no ill effects. MRSA is a type of staph that has developed antibiotic resistance (certain antibiotics are unable to kill the bacteria). Since staph is spread primarily by direct (skin-to-skin) human contact or with direct contact to wound drainage of someone who is carrying or infected with the bacteria, anyone with a break in his or her skin is at risk. In addition, since staph infections start when staph enters the body through a break in the skin, keeping skin healthy and intact is a good preventative measure. Good skin care should be encouraged among sports participants. MRSA may also occur less frequently through indirect contact with contaminated surfaces or items. MRSA is not spread through the air. Staph infections begin abruptly. Symptoms may include a large area of redness on the skin, swelling and pain, followed by a pustule or abscess or boils and carbuncles (red, lumpy sores filled with pus). If left untreated, staph can infect blood and bones, causing severe illness that requires hospitalization. Students should take the following precautions to help prevent skin infections.

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Staph/MRSA Preventions

Staph and MRSA are becoming more common in community settings and can be serious and easily spread. In an effort to educate, protect, and reduce the spread of these and other bacteria and viruses, it is important to follow these general precautions and preventative measures.

  • Encourage frequent and proper hand washing with soap and warm water. Use an alcohol gel when soap and water are not available.
  • Encourage students to keep their fingernails clean and clipped.
  • Avoid contact with other people's wounds or anything contaminated by a wound.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as razors, towels, deodorant, or soap that directly touch the body.
  • Avoid sharing unwashed towels, washcloths, clothing, or uniforms.
  • Avoid sharing, eating and drinking utensils.
  • Keep skin well moisturized to prevent dry skin cracking.
  • Clean and disinfect objects such as gym and sports equipment before use.
  • Wash dirty clothes, linens, and towels with hot water and laundry detergent. Using a hot dryer rather than air-drying also helps kill bacteria.
  • Wash bed linens and pajamas regularly, at least once a week if feasible.
  • Change socks and underwear daily.
  • Bathe or shower with soap each day.
  • Encourage students who participate in contact sports to shower immediately after each practice, game, or match.
  • Avoid contact with other people's wounds or material contaminated by wounds (i.e. bandages, gauze, and the like.)
  • Seek medical attention for any pimple, boil, or "bite."
  • Keep open or draining sores and lesions clean and covered. Anyone assisting with wound care should wear gloves and wash their hands with soap and water after dressing changes.
  • Follow your health care provider's instructions for proper wound care.

Sports Participants Information

Additionally, sports participants should be aware that possible risk factors for Staph skin and soft tissue infection occurring among athletes. These include:

  • Physical contact/skin trauma
  • "Turf burns" (especially for football players)
  • Contact with teammates' uncovered skin lesions
  • Sharing protective equipment, clothing or towels
  • Sharing personal hygiene items
  • Reuse of unlaundered towels, clothing, uniforms, etc.
  • Inadequate supply of dispensable or individual-use soap
  • Cosmetic body shaving
  • Poor personal hygiene practices, including infrequent hand washing
  • Poor environmental cleaning of locker rooms and/or sport rooms

Students with suspected staph infections should come to EIU Health Service for proper wound care. For more information, please call EIU Medical Clinic at 581-3013.