Community Staph Infection Cases on the Rise

October 13, 2005--Posted at 6:30 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR--The Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services is reporting and increase in ther number of community acquired staph infections. Staph's something that can start out as a small wound but end up a big nuisance.

"We have a new strain, it is in the community and it's spread through the community and if it is not taken care of they end up in the hospital," said Debbi Ledbetter, St. Bernards Director of Infection Control.

In the last 3 years it's been reported more recently among the community especially among sports teams, day care centers and schools.

This new strain, methicillin resistant staph, is a community based infection that is a result of years of overuse and abuse of antibiotics. But what does a staph infection look like?

"What we see most of the time is skin or soft tissue infections it starts with something that looks like a pimple or a boil then it becomes red swollen tender and usually will have some drainage," said St. Bernards Registered Nurse Melissa Burrow.

Patients with wounds that have a smelly drainage need to see a doctor. This kind of infection is easily treated. But the best way to fight a community staph infection is through prevention. The easiest form of prevention is just by washing your hands.

Athletes are more susceptible to getting the staph infection partly because their share equipment towels and mats.

"One of the ways we try to prevent infection at our fitness center is participants can wipe down the equipment before and after they use it," said St. Bernards Fitness Center Manager Kelly Gross.

Football players and other team sports are prone to community staph infection because in many cases not everyone has equipment. In many cases they share helmets, pads and other sporting goods.

To help prevent staph, sports equipment needs to be cleaned in between uses. So exactly how big is the community staph infection problem.

"It's not something you should be really scared of just aware of," said Burrow.

Items such as cosmetics, lipstick, razors, cell phones and other generally used items may also be a source of transmission for community acquired staph infection.