Health Department Warns of Staph Outbreak

AUGUST 31, 2004 - Posted at 2:58 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The staph infection is most common in hospitals, where patients come in regular contact with bacteria.

But doctors at the Arkansas Department of Health said today that incidences of another strain, a type acquired in the community and not in healthcare centers, have increased over the last five to ten years.

Dr. Sandra Snow says the strain people are contracting in the community is not as resistant to antibiotics as the hospital strain.

According to Snow, between 30 and 50 percent of the community carry the staph bacteria in their nose or on their skin.

The staph infection that occurs on the skin most looks like a pimple or spider bite at first and may develop into larger sores.  Those most at risk for developing an infection include prison inmates, injection drug users, homosexual men and athletes who participate in competitive sports, especially contact sports like football and wrestling.

Preventative measures include covering all wounds with clean bandages, taking frequent showers, washing hands, not sharing personal items like razors or combs, and cleaning exercise equipment at group facilities.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)