Mom always said: wash your hands! And she is right.
“Hand washing is the single best way to keep yourself protected from a number of infectious diseases,” explains Anne Dikon, RN, CIC, director of infection prevention at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton.
An infectious disease is one that is contracted through some type of contact. An individual fighting an infection, a community managing a meningitis outbreak or contaminated food or water, and widespread diseases like tuberculosis are all examples of the impact of infectious disease.
One of the worst offenders? Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. This dangerous little bug is highly contagious, fast-spreading and resistant to many antibiotics. It can be spread through close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions, and poor hygiene. People may be more at risk in locations where these factors are common, including: athletic facilities, dormitories, military barracks, correctional facilities, and daycare centers.
More than 50 percent of healthy persons have Staphylococcus aureus living in or on their nasal passages, throats, hair, or skin, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
“It can be picked up just about anywhere, but the more people you are around, the higher your risk,” adds Dikon. “Which is why schools can be a common place where MRSA outbreaks occur.”
As we go into the new school year, it’s important to keep hygiene top of mind. The potential of exposure to dangerous bacteria increases as soon as your child enters school. In particular, athletes can be a favorite target for MRSA. These bacteria thrive in damp, warm areas like sporting equipment and locker rooms.
So what can you do to prevent the spread? Dikon offers these tips to keep skin infections like MRSA from spreading this school year:
— Wash your hands frequently.
— Keep all wounds bandaged and clean, always washing hands before and after a bandage change.
— Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
— Wash and dry clothes and bed linens in the warmest temperatures recommended on the labels.
— If you have an infection, take antibiotics as prescribed and inform your healthcare providers.
Signs of a skin infection like MRSA include redness, swelling, pain, warmth to the touch, a pus-filled bump or area, and fever. If you are experiencing these symptoms or have questions about such an infection, be sure see a physician to get the appropriate treatment.