Ashdown School District
From the office of the School Nurse
Questions and Answers about STAPH Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Schools
What type of infections does MRSA cause?•
In the community most MRSA infections are skin infections that may appear as pustules or boils which often are red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. These skin infections commonly occur at sites of visible skin trauma, such as cuts and abrasions, and areas of the body covered by hair (e.g., back of neck, groin, buttock, armpit).
How is MRSA transmitted?•
MRSA is usually transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with shared items or surfaces that have come into contact with someone else’s infection (e.g., towels, used bandages).
In what settings do MRSA skin infections occur?
• MRSA skin infections can occur anywhere.
• Some settings have factors that make it easier for MRSA to be transmitted.
• These factors, referred to as the 5 C‘s, are as follows: Crowding, frequent skin-to-skin Contact, Compromised skin (i.e., cuts or abrasions), Contaminated items and surfaces, and lack of Cleanliness.
• Locations where the 5 C’s are common include schools and daycare centers.
How do I protect myself from getting MRSA?
You can protect yourself and students by:
• practicing good hygiene (e.g., keeping your hands clean by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and showering immediately after participating in exercise);
• covering skin trauma such as abrasions or cuts with a clean dry bandage until healed;• avoiding sharing personal items (e.g., towels, razors) that come into contact with your bare skin; and using a barrier (e.g., clothing or a towel) between skin and shared equipment such as weight-training benches;
• maintaining a clean environment by establishing cleaning procedures for frequently touched surfaces and surfaces that come into direct contact with people’s skin.
Should the school be closed to be cleaned or disinfected when a STAPH (MRSA) infection occurs? • Covering infections will greatly reduce the risks of surfaces becoming contaminated with STAPH (MRSA).
In general it is not necessary to close schools to “disinfect” them when MRSA infections occur. MRSA skin infections are transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact and contact with surfaces that have come into contact with someone else’s infection.
• When MRSA skin infections occur, cleaning and disinfection should be performed on surfaces that are likely to contact uncovered or poorly covered infections.
• Cleaning surfaces with detergent-based cleaners or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants is effective at removing MRSA from the environment.
• It is important to read the instruction labels on all cleaners to make sure they are used safely and appropriately.
• Environmental cleaners and disinfectants should not be used to treat infections.
• The EPA provides a list of EPA-registered products effective against MRSA: http://epa.gov/oppad001/chemregindex.htm
Should students with MRSA skin infections be excluded from attending school?
• Unless directed by a physician, students with MRSA infections should not be excluded from attending school. • Exclusion from school and sports activities should be reserved for those with wound drainage (“pus”) that cannot be covered and contained with a clean, dry bandage and for those who cannot maintain good personal hygiene.
How do I prevent spreading MRSA to others?
• Cover all wounds. Keep wounds that are draining or have pus covered with clean, dry bandages until healed. Pus from infected wounds can contain staph, including MRSA, so keeping the infection covered will help prevent the spread to others. Bandages and tape should be discarded with the regular trash.
• Clean your hands frequently. You and your students should wash their hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after changing a bandage or touching the infected wound.
• Do not share personal items. Avoid sharing personal items, such as towels, washcloths, razors, clothing, or uniforms that may have had contact with the infected wound or bandage. Wash sheets, towels, and clothes that become soiled with water and laundry detergent. Use a dryer to dry clothes completely.
Practical Advice for Teachers
• If you observe children with open draining wounds or infections, refer the child to the school nurse.
• Enforce hand hygiene with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers (if available) before eating and after using the bathroom.
Information obtained from the Centers for Disease Control www.cdc.gov
The following information is essential to keep our students safe and healthy:
*All wounds must be covered with a clean dry bandage until healed, any other substitution that does not physically cover the wound (ex. spray barrier, like Dermaplast) is unacceptable.
*Wounds with drainage (“pus”) must be covered and contained on all four sides of the wound at all times. If the pus is unable to be covered and contained the student should not be allowed to participate in the activity.
*Stress good hygiene (e.g., keeping your hands clean by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol based hand sanitizer and showering immediately after participating in exercise.)
*Stress importance of avoiding sharing personal items that come in contact with your bare skin; and using a barrier (e.g., clothing or a towel) between your skin and shared equipment such as weight-training benches.
*Maintain a clean environment by establishing cleaning procedures for frequently touched surfaces and surfaces that come in direct contact with people’s skin. Cleaning surfaces with detergent-based cleaners is effective in removing MRSA from the environment.
Thank you for your assistance in helping maintain a safe and healthy school environment.
Amy Silva RN, BSN
This information obtained from the Centers for Disease Control. www.cdc.gov