School district takes aim against MRSA
Supt. Paul Dorathy and Carrie Enick are doing what they can to keep their students healthy.
With the recent news surrounding the MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) infection, which has killed at least two students on the east coast, the Baldwin School District has taken action. Hundreds of other students across the country have been diagnosed with MRSA during the last month.
Dorathy and Enick, Baldwin High School and Baldwin Junior High School nurse, are spreading the word about the virus to parents and students in the Baldwin School District.
"We have placed some information on our Web site (www.usd348.com) for parents," Dorathy said. "They can click on parents and there is some information there that is helpful to them."
Enick said MRSA has been around for a long time, but is in the news recently because it's now affecting younger people.
"MRSA has been around a long time," Enick said. "A long time ago it hit elderly people or immune-compromised people. It's big news now because it's hitting healthy kids.
"It can be treated," Enick said. "If it's left untreated and enters your blood stream, that's when it becomes deadly. You need to see a doctor before it enters your blood stream."
Since most cases of MRSA have involved athletes, the district will be sending home information with each student participating in a winter sport.
"It hits the athletic community harder, so we are giving stuff to the winter athletes and the P.E. classes," Enick said. "We've got a specific protocol for the locker rooms and weight rooms."
The information sent home includes MRSA symptoms, possible ways to be infected, treatment methods and how to stop the spread of the infection.
Dorathy and Enick want their students and parents to know everything they can to prevent the infection from spreading to any students.
"If you have an abrasion or sore that's not healing, get it checked out instead of trying to treat it yourself," Enick said. "They say it appears like a spider bite. You have to get it taken care of."
Their primary message to everyone is to practice good hygiene.
"The very best thing that kids and parents can do is hand washing," Enick said. "It says that in all of that stuff that we have for them.
"If parents want to send a small bottle of hand sanitizer with their kids, that's a great idea," Enick said. "If they need to clean their hands and can't get to the bathroom everytime, then it's a great idea."
"As Carrie said, they need to practice good hygiene," Dorathy said. "They need to wash their hands often and well. If they get a cut or scratch, it needs to be covered by a good clean bandage. They should avoid sharing personal items."
Dorathy went on to say that the district is doing its best to keep its buildings clean to protect its students.
"We need to maintain a clean environment, which we are doing," Dorathy said. "Our custodians are working hard to keep our buildings as clean as possible. They are using the proper cleaning solutions as the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has instructed."
There is a Web site for anyone interested in reading more about MRSA. It is www.cdc.gov/features/MRSAinschools.
What the infection might look like:
- A spider biter
- Turf burn
- Infected skin/wound
How do you get MRSA:
- Touching someone's MRSA-infected skin
- Touching surfaces that have MRSA on them, such as doorknobs and light switches
- Sharing personal hygiene items, such as bar soap, towels and razors
- Not having the resources to keep clean
- Overusing antibiotics, stopping them early or missing doses
How is MRSA treated:
- By a healthcare provider who may:
- Drain the infection and/or give the antibiotic and/or help reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin
How to stop the spread of MRSA:
- Wash your hands often with warm, soapy water
- Use 60 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
- Shower immediately after practice and matches
- Do not share personal hygiene items or clothing
- Wear practice clothes/uniforms only once, wash with soap and hot water, dry in hot dryer
- Cover all wounds with a clean, dry bandage taped on all four sides
- Avoid contact with other people's skin infections
- Report skin infections to coach, trainer or nurse
- Clean and disinfect athletic gear and practice surfaces (mats, benches, weight lifting equipment) after each use
- Do not let wrestlers practice with potentially contagious wounds, even if covered, and consider use of this rule for all sports