CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A case of MRSA, a highly contagious infection, has been discovered at Union Elementary School in Wingate Tuesday.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a staph bacteria that is highly resistant to several types of antibiotics, according to the CDC. Anyone can get MRSA, but the risk increases in spaces or activities that involve skin-to-skin contact or shared equipment.
It spreads through direct contact with another person's infection and sharing or touching items that have touched the infected area. For children and students, this can commonly involve playing or participating in sports where there is frequent physical contact.
In most cases of MRSA acquired outside of healthcare settings, it causes skin infections, and potentially pneumonia. However, if it's left untreated, it can cause severe infections such as sepsis. That's why health officials say it is critical to spot the signs and symptoms of MRSA early on, in order to prevent the infection from becoming serious.
The first sign of infection is often a bump or infected area on the skin that may be red, swollen, painful, warm to the touch or full of pus and drainage. If these symptoms are accompanied by a fever, you need to cover the wound with a band-aid and contact a healthcare provider immediately.
The infection is often treated by having a healthcare professional drain the infection and they may prescribe an antibiotic.
You can protect your family from MRSA by always keeping wounds clean and covered, washing your hands regularly, and trying not to share personal items such as towels and razors. This is especially important for student athletes who may be dealing with cuts or scrapes. They're encouraged to clean up regularly, especially after exercise.
There are precautions that parents and educators need to take when it comes to MRSA in the classroom. All toys, surfaces that may have been touched and shared linens should be sanitized. Frequently check the bandages covering the wound, and change them before there is too much drainage. You should wear gloves to treat the wound and be careful with the disposal of the bandage and anything that may have touched it.
Students with MRSA infections can continue to go to school unless they're told by a doctor not to. However, they shouldn't go if the wound is continuing to drain puss.
The infected child’s clothes and linens should be washed every day. They should not share any of these items with other children or family members in the house. Everyone in the classrooms and home should wash their hands consistently, and practice good hygiene.
For more information on the signs, symptoms and prevention of MRSA, click here.