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FOR RELEASE: October 11, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Prevent Skin Infections through Good Hand Hygiene and
Proper Wound Care

The Oklahoma State Department of Health and Caddo County Health Department said today that recent reports of skin infections among members of the Carnegie community should not be a cause for alarm and recommends that sports events and other group activities should continue as scheduled.

Both state and local health officials have responded to numerous inquiries from the Carnegie community regarding recent cases of Staphylococcus aureus skin infections. These infections are usually mild, superficial infections of the skin that can be treated successfully with proper wound care.

Staphylococcus aureus or “Staph” is one of several types of bacteria commonly found on the skin or in the nose of healthy individuals. This presence of bacteria without illness is called colonization. When bacteria from either colonized or infected sources come into contact with any break in the skin, an infection can result.

Bacteria that cause skin infections can be transmitted to others by touching the skin of a person who is either infected or colonized. Touching equipment and items that have been in contact with the infected or colonized person can also spread these infections. In particular, having contact with the skin infection or drainage itself increases the chances of catching or spreading an infection. Bacteria picked up on your hands can then be spread by touching your eyes, nose, mouth or any break in the skin.

Sports that involve increased physical contact have previously been linked to clusters of skin infections. Health officials have been working closely with Carnegie school officials to discuss preventing potential transmission among the student population, specifically during sports events. Measures for preventing skin infections among sports participants include: Covering cuts, scrapes and other wounds with a bandage; showering with soap right after all sports activities; performing routine cleaning of shared sports equipment and other shared objects; and discouraging sharing of personal items such as razors, soap, ointments, balms or towels.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Caddo County Health Department urge people to prevent skin infections by following these steps:

  • Practice good and frequent hand hygiene.
  • Use soap and water when hands are visibly soiled.
  • Use alcohol-based hand gel if hands are not visibly soiled.
  • After washing with soap and water, cover any wound with a clean, dry bandage.
  • Avoid contact with drainage from skin infections.
  • If you have a skin infection that is not improving, contact your healthcare provider.
  • Practice good skin care because healthy intact skin is your best protection against skin infections.

For more information about skin infections, contact the Caddo County Health Department at 405/247-2507.

OSDH Fact Sheet on MRSA
http://www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/MRSAFactSheet.pdf

Other Resources

CDC: Community-Associated MRSA Frequently Asked Questions, August 2003, accessed on 20 August 2004 at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/hip/ARESIST/mrsa_comm_faq_print.htm

County of Los Angeles Department of Health Services: Fact Sheet for Health Care Providers: Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Skin Infections, 3/20/2003, accessed on 20 August 2004 at http://lapublichealth.org/acd/docs/CAMRSA_ProviderFactSheet.pdf

CDC: Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings, MMWR 2002;51 (No. RR-16), accessed on 20 August 2004 at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5116a1.htm

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