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Information on MRSA

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 and the Center for Disease Control site at This latter site, while geared more towards K-12, nonetheless contains helpful information.

Sam Sadler