Based on recent rumors, a potentially serious strain of staph infection has been circulating St. Davids, but according to Director of the Health Center Judith Cocking, the infection is nothing that cannot be controlled.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, staphylococcus aureus, otherwise known as staph, can look like pimples or boils, may appear red and swollen and may have pus or other drainage. Only a certain strain known as methicillin-resistant staph or MRSA does not react to specific antibiotics and can be more difficult to treat.
Cocking explained that while 60 students have come into the health center to be tested for staph this semester, only two have tested positive for MRSA. “Any staph, whether MRSA or not, can be very serious if not treated, but can generally be healed if proper care is taken,” she said.
The CDC warns that the infection can be passed through skin-to-skin contact with a person who is already infected or a surface with staph on it, as well as through openings in the skin like cuts and scrapes, through crowded living conditions and from poor hygiene. “This is a personal contact issue more than anything,” Cocking said. “You’re not as likely to get [staph] from [public] showers as from putting your hands in your mouth.”
While the Health Department was contacted following the two positive diagnoses, according to Cocking, they were not concerned enough to come to Eastern and investigate. Neither are they encouraging any schools to close at this time in response to any staph infections.
Instead, Eastern has taken several preventative measures of its own to ensure that infection is kept to a minimum. Among them, Cocking said that since the development of an eye infection two years ago, a campus-wide project was developed to clean all public keyboards and office equipment at least once a week with antiseptic.
In addition, Cocking said, “the Health Center is working with the athletics department [to] develop an aggressive policy against infection which includes cleaning showers, locker rooms and equipment.”
Sophomore Cheryl Palevo is a soccer player at Eastern. “[The coaches] make sure you get your dirty clothes in the laundry,” she said. “If cuts aren’t healing, we talk to an athletic trainer.”
Cocking encourages anyone with a moist, warm, red infection that does not scab over within five to seven days to visit the health center.