October 17, 2007
The Texas Department of State Health Services has released new guidelines to help prevent the spread of staphylococcal infections.
The guidelines, “Prevention and Containment of Staphylococcal Infections in Communities,” include checklists for athletic departments, schools, child care settings, dormitories, group homes, gyms and spas, homes, salons, workplaces and youth camps.
Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to as “staph,” are bacteria that can cause skin infections that are often initially mistaken for insect or spider bites. Staph bacteria are spread through person-to-person contact or contact with contaminated surfaces.
Symptoms of serious infection include fever or persistent draining, bleeding or red streaks at the infected site. The bacteria also can cause life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia and bloodstream infections. Some staph bacteria called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, are resistant to commonly used antibiotics.
“Regular hand washing is the best way to prevent staph transmission,” said Marilyn Felkner, a DSHS epidemiologist. “Getting back to the basics – using soap and water, or hand sanitizer – is essential in facilities where people work, live and play close together.”
DSHS recommends the following guidelines to avoid infection:
- Practice good hygiene, especially regular hand washing.
- Do not share personal items such as towels or razors.
- Thoroughly clean shared items – toys, telephones, keyboards – using a 1:100 bleach-water solution.
- Cover open wounds or cuts with a clean, dry bandage.
- Seek medical attention if symptoms occur.
- Schools and employers in close-contact settings should create infection containment policies and provide prevention information to employees.
The complete set of guidelines is available at www.mrsaTexas.org.
(News media: For more information contact Carrie Williams, Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)