Brittany Montague, Special to Southern News-
Swollen, red, raised and sometimes-painful skin area are some of the symptoms of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Campus Medical Director Dr. Morgenthaler described what MRSA is.
“Like any other staph infection, MRSA is a skin infection,” said Morgenthaler, “MRSA can develop if there is an open wound that comes in direct contact with the bacteria, or if a person has an ingrown hair, or simply from sharing personal hygiene products such as razors.”
However, there is a difference between MRSA, in comparison to other staph infections.
“Normal staph infections are treated with penicillin; MRSA is resistant to penicillin and other antibiotics, so right off the bat, it needs to be treated with different antibiotics,” said Morganthaler.
Tuesday, Feb. 15 a campus health advisory e-mail was sent out to all students. The e-mail was intended to make students aware, cautious and more knowledgeable about just what MRSA was.
Athletic Director Patricia Nicol and Head Athletic Trainer Carol Nelson described how the e-mail was never intended to alarm or scare students.
“The e-mail was just to inform you, and educate you, because this is something that is not uncommon,” said Nelson. “We try to be as transparent as we can just to get the word out there, knowledge is power.”
Nicol added “Sometimes you take a little bit of a chance informing students, because we don’t want it to expand into hysteria on campus.”
If a student notices what looks to be symptoms of MRSA, they are advised to seek medical attention. MRSA is completely treatable, with the right antibiotics. Dr. Morgenthaler described standard procedure, if a student comes to the campus Health Center with symptoms of MRSA.
“We first take a skin culture of the infected area and send it to the lab, to determine just what type of infection it is,” said Morgenthaler. “In the meantime, the patient is treated with antibiotics. Once the culture comes back positive for MRSA, the infected area is kept covered and continuously treated with antibiotics.”
Recovery time depends on the individual, and the severity of the infection.
Nicol and Nelson wanted to make clear that possible MRSA infection was not just an advisory to athletes or a problem stemming from athlete use of gym equipment, but also an advisory to the general campus population. The campus gym and equipment are used by non-athletes and students at night, for activities such as open gym and exercise science classes. Needless to say, everyone should be aware and take necessary precautions to protect themselves.
Student Trevor Harris, who said he participates in open gym, described his feelings about becoming aware of MRSA.
“I don’t really think it’s a big deal as long as everyone does their part and cleans shared equipment,” said Harris.
Dr. Morgenthaler agreed students should do just that. She offered these tips to lower the risk of the infection spreading.
“Avoid dirty equipment, wash hands after using equipment, wipe down used equipment, when you get a cut or open wound, have it treated right away,” said Morgenthaler.
Nicol said she, coaches, and other athletic staff are taking all necessary steps to insure not just the safety of the athletes, but the general population.
Nicol and Nelson said they believe students should not be alarmed but rather proactive instead.
Over the president’s holiday, while the university is closed, there will be a professional cleaning firm conducting an in-depth hygienic cleaning and sanitizing of the weight room area.