Preventing MRSA Infections

by SKHC Editor on November 14, 2007

The superbugs are here and the phone has been ringing off the hook!  Parents, staff and even grandparents are calling to find out what we are doing to prevent community-associated Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (CA MRSA) in the schools.

The media have been replete with articles about it and have reported some of the details of the fatalities that have resulted.  In the last week alone, I have received emails with information on CA MRSA from the Departments of Public Instruction and Health and Family Services.  The public is uneasy and school nurses, once again, are on the front lines when it comes to this issue in the school environment.

Education is the key.  The school nurse must first educate herself and then the staff and the school community at large.  A frequently asked questions (FAQs) format is often helpful in educating others.  What is MRSA?  What is CA MRSA?  What does an MRSA infection look like?  How is the infection treated?  How can we prevent MRSA infections?  If a student has a MRSA skin infection, what can be done to prevent others from getting infected? 

After education, prevention is critical.  Recommendations for reducing the transmission of CA MRSA among students can be found in numerous locations and are often simply stated, but sometimes difficult to implement.

• Keep skin clean.
• Keep skin protected.
• Know the signs and symptoms of skin infections, to aid in early detection.
• Develop policy and practice guidelines for exclusion of students with skin infections.
• Maintain a clean environment.
• Develop a plan for management of outbreaks.

Luckily, there is a lot of information out there, but you must be selective.  To get started, contact your local and state health departments – they should be able to help you.  For additional resources, the following web sites are recommended:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Questions and answers

Overview of pertinent information

Information for the public

Clinical management strategies

Educational materials (posters and information sheet)

MRSA in Schools

Twyla Lato, RN, BSN, NCSN is a School District Nurse for a suburban community in southeast Wisconsin, and a past president of the Wisconsin Association of School Nurses. 

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