WA Encounters MRSA for a Second Time in a Year

Josh Rosenstein, Staff Writer

On October 12, an email from superintendent, Everett Olsen, was sent to WA parents concerning the diagnosis of MRSA in a Westford Academy student.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a bacteria that is resistant to many different antibiotics. The bacteria can cause infections, especially skin infections.

The recent emergence of MRSA is not new to Westford Academy. This is the second instance of the infection at the school in just over a year. Last year, at almost exactly the same time, several students at WA were diagnosed with MRSA.

“MRSA’s everywhere. It can be anywhere, it’s just how you react, and how your immune system [reacts] to treatment,” school nurse, Kathy Bourdeau said.

Superintendent Olsen addressed the issue of MRSA in his email, and explained that the faculty at Westford Academy is aware of the issue and is working to prevent the spread of the infection.

“It has recently come to our attention that one of our students at Westford Academy has been diagnosed with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). […] Westford Academy understands the urgency in addressing the MRSA infection immediately, and will continue to disinfect locker rooms, gym mats and equipment. In addition, all coaches are reviewing with their athletes the signs and symptoms, as well as methods to prevent MRSA infections,” Olsen stated in his email.

Olsen also attached in his email two links to websites which provide information on MRSA. Both websites offer descriptions on the infection, as well as how to treat it.

“Treatment for MRSA skin infections may include having a healthcare professional drain the infection and, in some cases, prescribe an antibiotic,” one of Olsen’s two links, the MRSA Fact Sheet, stated.

Faculty, students, and family members must be aware of methods used to prevent themselves from getting MRSA, as well as ways to prevent the spread of the infection.

“It goes right back to the basics. Really good hand washing after you come out of bathrooms. […] When you’re in the locker rooms, not sharing equipment, not sharing water bottles, not sharing anything that’s in contact with somebody else’s things. And keeping yourself showered and clean everyday,” Bourdeau said.

The MRSA Fact Sheet also provides useful information on how to protect yourself and others from getting skin infections.

“Know the signs of MRSA skin infections and get treated early. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered. Encourage good hygiene such as cleaning hands regularly. Discourage sharing of personal items such as towels and razors,” the MRSA Fact Sheet stated.

At Westford Academy, the nurses have already helped a student with the infection. The work they do may seem simple, but it is extremely important and cannot be looked over.

“We just make sure that the wound is healing okay, or teach them how to do specific wound care, [make sure they] keep it covered, and just make sure the treatment is going well with them,” Bourdeau said.

Students at Westford Academy also need to be informed on how MRSA can be passed from person to person. It spreads through direct contact from someone with the infection to someone without it. It can also be spread through indirect contact, such as sharing the same towel.

Sports occurrences of MRSA are more common due to contact of player to player. Also, MRSA can get in the sweat of a player, which can lead to the infection spreading through touching the sweaty clothes of the infected person.

For more information on MRSA, Westford families can look at the two websites Olsen provided in his email.