As spring turns to summer, we welcome a season of vacations and outdoor recreation. So too do the bacteria that thrive in these warmer, more moist conditions, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. The slightest threat of MRSA can trigger a massive expense of time and energy and a troubling interruption in normal community life, especially when it strikes where we are most accustomed to feeling safe and at ease – at school, summer camp, or even a yoga studio.
Just last month, five schools in Palm Beach County, FL were scrubbed when a person with a suspected case of the contagious MRSA infection visited the schools. Even though the bacteria had not been detected on any of the campuses, the suspicion alone was enough to order the schools meticulously sanitized out of caution. The scare in Palm Beach County now has faculty and families in neighboring counties and districts wrapping up the school year on high alert instead of on a high note.
As the infection spreads, so too does the fear. Physicians in coastal Texas report MRSA cases on the rise, with one doctor saying he treats four or more infections per day. Some local business owners there are going to great lengths to protect their community, including one yoga studio owner who asks clients to wipe mats down with Clorox after class and hang them outside the studio to dry.
In the worst cases, these stories end in heartbreak. This week, a high school football player in Jacksonville, FL had his life tragically end at the age of 15 due to a MRSA infection. A pickup basketball game, organized football practice, or visits to any number of health facilities are possibly to blame. A family that should be celebrating the end of a school year is instead left to grieve for a lifetime.
MRSA bacteria can lurk on textiles such as clothing, carpet and upholstery. Help keep you and your loved ones safe from MRSA and other infectious diseases this summer with extra diligence in settings where skin-to-skin contact and soiled, shared soft surfaces are common. Avoid sharing personal items like towels or razors (or yoga mats!), and keep cuts, scrapes and other skin abrasions clean and covered until healed. Seek out new innovations that can help reduce the spread of MRSA via commonly shared items.