On Thursday, Oct. 3, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs sent out a campuswide email notifying the community of a methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA infection, that had been reported in Building 43, the Kellogg Gym in rooms 128 and 205 on Friday, Sept. 27.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), what sets MRSA apart from an average staph infection is that it is a type of bacteria that has proven resistant to certain antibiotics.
The email notice unsettled many Broncos, like fourth-year civil engineering student Alex Berk.
“I freaked out a little bit,” Berk said. “I get nervous when it comes to diseases.”
Dr. Timothy Moody, lead physician for CPP Student Health Services (SHS), says MRSA is not as frightening as it sounds.
Dr. Moody states that today, the infection is much more common and that researchers have created antibiotics such as vancomycin that can tackle the infection.
“I bet we see two or three students every week that we have to drain a skin lesion from,” Moody said. “We see it frequently; we cover it up and we tell people how to take care of it. As long as they are not dripping icky stuff from their skin, we think that they’re OK to be around everybody else.”
One can contract the infection through skin-to-skin contact or from sharing personal items like towels.
The risk of contraction is higher in crowded environments where there are many shared surfaces. The main symptom is red, infected area(s) on the surface of the skin that usually contain fluid. Commonly, many mistake the infection for a spider bite.
In the email notice, the Student Affairs office stated, “As a precaution, the university immediately closed off the affected classrooms in Building 43 and disinfected the rooms before other classes were held.”
Fourth-year liberal studies student Dana Recio takes kinesiology courses in the Kellogg Gym.
Before the campuswide email, students who are taking courses in the Kellogg Gym were already notified by instructors. Some faculty wrote that the class could meet elsewhere to avoid possible infection.
Recio was among the small number of students who received emails directly.
As a former biology student, Recio remained unimpressed with the upkeep of the equipment even before the incident.
“I was not surprised,” Recio said. “I’ve taken a few classes in the Kellogg Gym and we all joke about not using the (exercise) mats because (the janitors) never clean the mats.”
The Poly Post reached out to Facilities Management for a comment but received no response.
Moody and the SHS urge students to maintain hygiene and cleanliness to halt possible contamination.
It is advised to wash your hands with soap and water often and avoid sharing drinks or products with others. Students are also advised to cover any and all wounds until they have completely healed.
“MRSA has to have a way to get into the skin and set up shop,” Moody said. “It’s all over our environment. We just have to assume that the world is a germy place and that most surfaces could have MRSA on them.”
If you believe you have an infection, it is advised to go the nearest urgent care.
SHS can also treat students because their services are included within student tuition and fees. Visit the SHS in Building 46 or call (909) 869-4000.
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