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New Jersey Y Employee Tests Positive for MRSA

MIDDLETOWN, NJ -- A part-time administrative employee at the Community YMCA's Red Bank Family Health and Fitness Center in Red Bank, NJ, tested positive for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on Friday.

In response, the Y is following the recommendations for preventing the spread of MRSA from the local health department, the Centers for Disease Control and the YMCA of the USA Medical Advisory Committee. The Y will remain open, but the infected employee is not working there.

The Community YMCA released a statement, saying, "Although environment (facilities, equipment, etc.) has not played a significant role in the transmission of MRSA in the outbreaks documented to date, our management staff is alert to the MRSA cases that have been reported across the country, and we are taking appropriate action in response at our facility."

The Y provides hand sanitizers throughout its facility, towels to wipe down equipment and instructions on how to prevent the transmission of MRSA. Y staff training curriculum includes simple ways to minimize and control the risk factors associated with transmission, including skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, and contaminated items and surfaces, according to the statement.

MRSA outbreaks are becoming more common. Recently, student recreation centers began taking precautions to help stop the spread of MRSA. Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ) installed hand sanitizer dispensers throughout campus after a student there was diagnosed with MRSA in September. After a staph infection case was reported at Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ, the college disinfected its student recreation center and weight room, and towels were discarded.

MRSA is a type of staph bacteria resistant to a certain type of antibiotics, including the commonly prescribed penicillin, oxacillin and amoxicillin. MRSA is transmitted most frequently by direct skin-to-skin contact and can be prevented with good hygiene (e.g., washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub and showering after working out), covering open skin areas such as abrasions or cuts with a clean dry bandage, avoiding sharing personal items such as towels or razors, using a barrier (e.g., clothing or a towel) between skin and shared equipment, and wiping surfaces of equipment before and after use.

For more on keeping your members healthy, read the Club Industry's Fitness Business Pro Trend Watch "Clean Up."

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