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MRSA Cases Prompt Action By University Rec Centers

Nationwide — Student recreation centers across the country are taking precautions to help stop the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ) installed hand sanitizer dispensers throughout campus after a student there was diagnosed with MRSA in September. (The student has fully recovered, university spokesperson Gretchen Johnson says.) Paper towels and cleaners are available in the student recreation center for students to sanitize equipment before and after use.

“We've learned that we have to get the message out very quickly and very aggressively,” Johnson says. “We did some really strong blast e-mails to everybody.”

A staph infection case at Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ, led to the disinfection of the student rec center and weight room.

The University of Colorado recently reported eight cases of community-associated MRSA, which often occurs in facilities such as schools or dormitories. That's a different strain than health care-associated MRSA, or the so-called “super bug,” which usually occurs in hospitalized patients with weakened immune systems.

In response to the outbreak, officials at the rec center removed equipment such as racquetball gloves and speed bag boxing gloves, says Herb Kienle, associate director of recreation center facilities. Students at the facility are encouraged to wipe down equipment before and after use.

“All we're doing is being conservative and disinfect our equipment a little more than usual,” Kienle says.

The best way to protect yourself against MRSA, Johnson says, is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and bandage open wounds.

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