Sam Sadler, vice president for student
affairs, sent the following note to the campus community Tuesday
afternoon regarding reported incidents of MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant
Staphyloccoccus aureus) in the Hampton Roads region, including one case
this year involving a William and Mary student. Sadler states it’s not
unusual for the College’s Health Center to see MRSA cases on occasion
and has diagnosed and treated them successfully in previous years. The
below note also includes information on taking precautions and links to
facts sheets regarding the illness. -Ed
MRSA - MRSA is Methicillin-Resistant Staphyloccoccus aureus. Lately
there has been a lot of attention in the press to the infections it can
cause because in its more serious ramifications, it can be hard to
treat and because there seems to be an increase of cases in the local
area. What I want you to know is that it is not unusual for our Health
Center to diagnose and treat cases of MRSA. We learned yesterday, for
example, that the local hospital diagnosed one of our students with the
infection. She should be released from the hospital in the next day or
two. All of the MRSA infections we have had at William and Mary have
been treated successfully and very few have required hospitalization.
So what should you know about MRSA? First, if you have a skin infection
that doesn't seem to be healing properly, seek medical attention and
cover the area. Most MRSA infections are "transmitted by direct
skin-to-skin contact or contact with shared items or surfaces that have
come in contact with someone else's infection (according to the CDC)."
There are some things you can do to keep from getting the infection.
Among those are washing your hands regularly with soap and water or
using an alcohol-based sanitizer; showering immediately after exercise;
avoiding the sharing of towels, razors or other items which can
transmit bacteria; and putting a barrier such as clothing or a towel
between you and objects others might use such as weight or exercise
equipment. Maintaining a clean environment by using detergent based
cleaners or disinfectants is also helpful. In that regard, when we have
a case of MRSA, we interview the person, and talk about how to clean
his/her own environment. The disinfectants we already use to clean
bathrooms, hallways, equipment, etc. are effective against MRSA. If you
would like to know more about MRSA, two good sites are Virginia Dept.
of Health at www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/factsheets/Methicillin.htm and the Center for Disease Control site at www.cdc.gov/Features/MRSAinSchools/ This latter site, while geared more towards K-12, nonetheless contains helpful information.