School gets high marks on MRSA response

W ith the discovery of a Granville wrestler with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, health and school officials are reminding students that a few simple tasks can prevent the infection.

The bacteria that cause MRSA are fairly common, but should not be a source for concern if basic precautions are taken, Granville school district physician Dr. Carl Beckler said.

MRSA is a type of staphylococcus aureus bacteria normally carried on the skin and in the noses of healthy people.

“You can get (MRSA) from yourself because 100 percent of us have it on our skin. The problem is when you have an open wound then you get an infection,” Beckler said.

The front line defense against an infection is thoroughly washing one’s hands with soap and hot water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Beckler said keeping fingernails cut short and clean also helps, he said.

For athletes, basic hygiene measures, including frequently changing the towel used to dry off after showering and frequently washing any workout clothing, are effective precautions that can be taken by every student. 

It is recommended as a precaution keeping cuts clean and bandaged until they have healed. People should also avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages and avoiding the sharing of personal items such as towels or razors that could come into contact with cuts or scrapes.

Beckler said not every wound is suspect for infection. “An open, draining wound is something I’d be most concerned with; everybody gets scrapes, so unless it’s draining and angry there’s no need to have it treated,” Beckler said. 

Regular skin abrasions, known as mat burn, are not a reason to stop wrestling. Infection often produces redness, swelling and tenderness at the site as well as fluid seeping from the wound, Beckler said. “I think by just doing sensible things you’re going to avoid all of this,” he said. 

School officials said wrestlers would be evaluated for what they called “questionable” rashes; if found, the suspect areas would require testing for MRSA before wrestlers can return to the mat. Bessen said the school had already given athletic facilities a thorough cleaning.

“I guess the only thing is to finish the clearing of screening. Everything else has been done, just that final little step left to get the wrestlers back on the mats,” Superintendent Mark Bessen said. 

For questions contact your health care provider, the Washington County Department of Health and speak with Patty Hunt 746-2400, extension 3485.

Links to information can be found on www.granvillecsd.org the NYS Health Department website www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/.

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