RIO GRANDE — Precautionary measures are being taken by the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College to prevent the spread of the antibiotic-resistant strain of staph normally referred to as MRSA after a student tested positive for the infection.
In an e-mail circulated to all faculty, staff and students and posted on the university’s website, health services explained the symptoms of MRSA and how it is treated and assured the public they are aggressively treating all areas the student may have come in contact with to prevent the spread of the infection.
“In almost any public area where people commonly come in contact with others, for example, schools, hospitals, churches and gymnasiums, anyone has a chance of being exposed to MRSA or any other type of infection,” stated the letter.
“These infections have been around for a long time, but because the infections are increasingly resistant to current antibiotics, it is more important than ever to practice good personal hygiene. The fact that it has not spread on this campus should reassure you that the Rio administration take the responsibility seriously in preventing the spread of any infection or disease.”
According to Dot Neutzling, RN, the university’s director for health services, no one who has come in contact with the student has shown symptoms of MRSA.
The student was originally thought to have a spider bite by a local physician, a common mistake in the diagnosis of MRSA.
“The symptoms of MRSA start out looking like a pimple or a spider bite, but instead of getting better over the next two days, it gets much worse and looks more like a boil with a large lump under very red and tender skin,” stated the e-mail. “Any type of staph infection needs to be treated aggressively.”
MRSA staph has been all over the news recently, popping up in schools from around the country. Some schools have had to close down to treat the infection.
Locally, the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office battled the infection in the county’s jail in April when swabs of the facility and two inmates tested positive for MRSA.
According to Chief Deputy Capt. John Perry, no more outbreaks have been reported and the jail is now regularly treated with a chemical foam often used in hospitals to prevent further outbreaks.
The Gallia County Health Department said the best way to prevent MRSA and staph bacteria infection is to practice good hygiene, including washing hands thoroughly with soap and water, keeping all cuts and abrasions clean and covered, avoiding contact with other people’s wounds or material contaminated by wounds and avoiding the sharing of personal items.
MRSA and staph bacteria is spread through direct physical skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or indirect contact by touching contaminated objects such as towel, sheets, wound dressings and sports equipment. It can also be spread through droplet infection from coughs or sneezes according to the university.