FARMINGTON — Staph is a common bacteria that is normally found on skin and in the nose. It can cause serious infections, according to information supplied by registered nurse Pamela Hadley, infection preventionist at Franklin Memorial Hospital.

If the bacteria enters the skin through a cut or scratch, a skin infection can develop that produces symptoms of redness, warmth, swelling, tenderness, boils or blisters. If the bacteria is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, it can only be determined through testing. MRSA, as it is known, can be more difficult to treat and can be spread by close contact with others. It is treatable by other drugs but may require longer dosages.

Preventive measures for school athletic teams includes not sharing personal items such as towels, razors or soap, showering after games and practices, and washing and drying uniforms and towels daily, said Dr. Andrew Pelletier, medical epidemiologist with the Division of Infectious Disease.

Wounds should be covered with bandages until healed. Frequent hand washing, as with other disease prevention, is advised. Hot water and hot dryer temperatures should kill MRSA germs during laundering.

Most people respond to treatment. Occasionally, cases can be severe and even life-threatening but that’s more infrequent, Pelletier said.

He recommends stopping athletic participation to allow the lesions to heal and wiping down shared athletic equipment between users.

Part of the protocol at Mt. Blue High School includes making sure coaches and physical education teachers are aware and know what the infection can look like in order to refer the student for medical treatment, Principal Monique Poulin said.
Extra cleaning procedures are also taken with equipment such as wrestling mats, she said.

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