MRSA infects student on campus

By Jamie Hufnagle
November 1, 2007

Megan Pellegrino

Recent test results have confirmed a case of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection that has infected a Cabrini student. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people.

MRSA is a type of staph that is resistant to antibiotics called beta-lactams. MRSA has been known to occur in hospitals and healthcare facilities, but has recently made its way to college campuses and surrounding communities.

The recent case has caused some students at Cabrini to be alarmed and become more aware of the possibilities of infection.

“I disinfected the whole bathroom in Xavier after I heard about it,” freshman undecided major Mike Dempsey said.

College nurse Susan Fitzgerald wants to lessen the concern of the college community by explaining how to treat this common virus. According to Fitzgerald, this is not the first case of MRSA on Cabrini’s campus. Because it is not considered a “reportable illness,” it has not been announced to the community in past occurrences.

“It’s been around for a long time. It’s just the drug resistance that is new,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s absolutely treatable. It’s just a matter of picking the right antibiotic.”

John Cordes, assistant professor of communication, was not alarmed by the recent occurrence. “I think everyone needs to be cautious, but any long-term effects would be minimal or non-existent.”

Fitzgerald stressed the importance of keeping your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, keeping cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed, avoiding contact with other people’s wounds or bandages and avoiding sharing personal items such as towels or razors in order to prevent infections.

It is also important to keep an eye on minor skin problems such as pimples, insect bites, cuts and scrapes, especially in children. In the case that wounds become infected, it is important to see a doctor. Skin infections should be tested for MRSA before antibiotic therapy is started since drugs that treat ordinary staph are not effective against MRSA and their use could lead to serious illness and more resistant bacteria.

According to health services, the student involved in the recent infection began receiving appropriate antibiotic therapy at the time the culture was taken and has since been cleared by her physician to return to campus.

Jamie Hufnagle

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