October 19, 2005

MRSA Health Advisory

MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococus Aureus) is a skin infection that used to be seen primarily in hospitals, and in those individuals with weakened immune systems. The spread of MRSA is not airborne. It is transmitted through direct contact with the bacteria. This can be through skin-to-skin contact, sharing of towels, personal items, or equipment. A break in the skin, such as a scrape or cut, would increase the possibility of getting the infection.

Recently MRSA has become more common in community and competitive sports settings. Overall, this is a nationwide trend and it has been seen locally, including in small numbers here on the Valdosta State University campus. During the past year there have been about 15 suspected cases at VSU and half of those have been confirmed.

Currently there are 2,000+ residents living on campus and based on the current number of students with the infection, and pending confirmation/negation, the likelihood of a student contracting the infection is less than .01%. Debbie Reagan, nurse practitioner in the VSU Farber Health Services Center, stated that all the current students who do have the infection have been treated and have been educated on how to take care of themselves in a way that will not spread the infection to others.

It is important to provide an atmosphere of support and understanding for anyone who has contracted MRSA. It is important to keep the communication channels open. VSU is working to ensure that appropriate information and resources are provided to keep our community safe. Special steps have been taken to increase the disinfecting and cleaning of common areas in gymnasiums, locker rooms, recreation areas and residence halls.

The purpose of this message is to help reduce any misinformation, rumors or concerns, especially for those individuals living on campus. If there are questions on the part of students living in a residence hall, please feel free to ask the Resident Assistant or Resident Housing Director. Additional questions can be asked of the VSU Farber Health Services Center, which has established much more information about MRSA at the following link: http://services.valdosta.edu/health/

Additional questions may be asked by contacting the Office of Campus Safety (229-293-6171) or the Vice President for Student Affairs (229-333-5359).