Connecticutâ€™s Department of Public Health has launched a new telephone hotline for callers with questions about MRSA, an infection thatâ€™s highly resistant to antibiotics. A federal study released last week found that the number of MRSA infections nationwide, may be twice as high as previously thought. Yesterday, high school students in New Haven learned ways to prevent the spread of MRSA.
Students studying public health at Hill Regional Career High School listened intently as Dr. Steve Updegrove talked about Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. The common, yet potentially life-threatening form of staph infection has been reported in New Haven, East Haven, Weston and Newtown schools within the past week. Dr. Updegrove told the class that MRSA is usually contracted by skin-to-skin contact. Athletes..especially wrestlers, ought to take extra precautions. He said MRSA is rarely fatal in healthy young people..and good hygiene with careful handwashing is the best defense. Afterwards, Dr. Updegrove cautioned that some media reports have heightened a sense of urgency about MRSA.
"People need to understand we have a problem, but they also need to understand how to keep it in perspective and what simple things need to be done to take care of it. We donâ€™t need headlines that say â€œHereâ€™s another pandemic..lets all run scared.â€
"The students here are very much aware of whats happening in the news."
Dr. Linda Goodman teaches the Introduction to Public Health course at Hill High School.
"And they have lots and lots of questions."
Goodman says kids want to know how the risk of MRSA may affect their lives. Students asked about possible outcomes, whether a vaccine might be developed and MRSAâ€™s possible impact on pregnancy and infants. 16-year old Tiffany Little
"Being that its so close to us that they found cases in CT, its kinda scary, but being well educated about it relieves the stress."
A report published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 85% of all invasive MRSA infections were found in health care settings. 880 cases were reported in Connecticut in 2006. Governor Rell has directed the Connecticut Department of Public Health to hold symposiums on MRSA in schools and other community settings.
For more information on MRSA, call the state hotline at: 800-830-9426.