Common Sense Prevents Spread Of Staph Infections

Terri Crawford, Van Osdell, Mary Ann  |  12/11/2007 2:43:39 AM

News You Can Use Release Distributed 12/05/07

A certain type of staph infection (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus – MRSA) can easily be prevented with proper hygiene and heal with treatment, according to Terri Crawford, Northeast region nutrition agent with the LSU AgCenter.

Anyone can get an infection caused by staph bacteria, but you are at greater risk if you have cuts or scrapes on your skin, Crawford said. You are more likely to get staph infections if you have skin-to-skin contact with someone who already has the infection or you contact items or surfaces that have staph bacteria on them.

“This is why staph infections have been reported at such a high rate recently with sports-related and play activities,” Crawford said.

The best defense against getting a staph infection is to practice proper hygiene and primarily hand-washing. Hands need to be kept clean by washing them thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

“Washing with soap and water is fine,” Crawford said, explaining, “You do not need any type of special antibacterial soap.”

The LSU AgCenter recommends scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds and drying hands thoroughly with a single-use paper towel whenever possible.

Cuts and scrapes need to be kept clean and covered with a bandage until healed. “It’s important to avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages as well as sharing such personal items as towels and razors,” Crawford said.

Keeping surfaces clean, especially surfaces that have repeated people-contact, such as door knobs, phones, play and sports equipment, is important in preventing many kinds of infections, including staph and MRSA.

“Use cleaning products that are designed to kill germs, such as a bleach and water solution or antibacterial sprays,” Crawford said.

Follow label instructions for appropriate dilutions and contact times.

Skin infections caused by staph may look like pimples or boils. They may be red, swollen, painful or have pus or other drainage. More serious infections can cause pneumonia or bloodstream infections.

“Anyone who thinks he has a staph infection needs to see a doctor right away,” Crawford said. “Staph infections are treatable.”

For more information on family and consumer topics, check out the LSU AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. For educational programs on staph prevention to be conducted at your school or day care center, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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Contact: Terri Crawford at (318) 435-2903, or tcrawford@agcenter.lsu.edu 
Writer: Mary Ann Van Osdell at (318) 741-7430, ext. 1104, or vanosdell@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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