University taking extra precautions with infection

by Amber B. Carter

Recent news reports have covered the outbreak of the infection Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in some colleges and high schools. Fortunately, Rider has not been part of those statistics; however, University officials are still advising students on how to prevent any occurrence of MRSA.

According to MRSA is a type of staphylococcus bacterium that is resistant to many antibiotics. Staph, like other bacteria, normally live on human skin and inner cavities of the nose, without causing any problems for individuals.

This strain of MRSA is usually found in hospitals, but somehow found its way into the general population. The strand that is usually contracted in the general population is treatable with oral antibiotics.

“Staphylococcus aureus is bacteria found on skin surfaces, under fingernails, and in the nasal passages and is a common cause of skin infections,” Director of Student Health Services Valerie Kamin said in a message to students.

MRSA is transmitted through contact with the bacteria itself or through contact with surfaces that have been touched by someone with the infection. These surfaces include gym equipment and personal items such as soap, towels, razors, and other hygienic items.

“MRSA occurs when there is a break in the skin,” said Patrice Sheridan, a nurse at the Health Center. “The break gives the bacteria an opening to get into the body.”

The University has taken several precautions in the fight against this infection.

According to Jan Friedman-Krupnick, assistant vice president of students, UNICCO, the University’s contract cleaning service, has assured her that the company is doing everything it can to keep students safe.

“We have taken precautions,” Friedman-Krupnick said. “I contacted Jean Pierre from UNICCO and asked him to check about the cleaning products used which [include] Johnson Wax. We have also asked UNICCO to do additional cleaning to sports equipment such as the mats.”

Students can protect themselves from MRSA by frequently washing their hands or using an alcohol based sanitizer when unable to use soap and water. Additionally, keeping cuts clean and bandaged, avoiding the use of other people’s hygienic items, keeping fingernails clean and short and using hot water when washing clothes can also help prevent the spread of MRSA.

According to Sheridan, the best way to evade MRSA is by staying healthy. Those with a weakened immune system are usually the ones who contract the bacteria.

“Healthy people don’t get MRSA,” Sheridan said. “Their immune systems fight off the infection. Staying healthy by eating right, exercising, and getting your proper rest would be the best line of defense.”

Although the risk is there, students don’t seem worried about contracting MRSA.

“I think it is unfortunate that there have been cases of MRSA,” said freshman Tyree Barnes. “We need to be more mindful of what goes around, like the things no one sees such as bacteria, and it still exists although its not visually evident.

“I think the students, faculty and staff need to be educated enough to know the proper procedures they have to take to [stay] healthy,” he added.

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