At Your School

MRSA is spread by skin-to-skin contact, or through personal items that have been contaminated with the bacteria such as towels or athletic equipment. MRSA is spread more easily in close quarters, like gyms and locker rooms. It is not uncommon for MRSA infections to spread among athletic team members or people who regularly visit the gym.

Athletes who play close-contact sports, such as wrestling and football, are also at an increased risk of contracting and spreading MRSA. In fact, MRSA infection rates are higher among football players than among other athletes. A total of 517 out of every 100,000 football players contracted MRSA from 2003 to 2005 as opposed to the overall national rate of 32 per 100,000 people.

Since MRSA infections can be serious, it is crucial to take these steps to help reduce the spread of infection at gyms and locker rooms:

  • Scrub up - Wash hands for at least 15 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub sanitizer, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. Make hand washing and/or hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the school. For more tips on effective hand washing, download the STOP MRSA Now Playbook..
  • Wipe it down - Use a bleach solution to disinfect hard surfaces, including desks, tabletops, doorknobs and light switches. To learn how to make a disinfecting bleach solution, download the STOP MRSA Now Playbook. (1 tablespoon of disinfecting bleach diluted in 1 quart of water)
  • Cover your cuts - Cover any nicks or wounds with a clean, dry bandage until healed. Teachers should refer students with open cuts to the school nurse.
  • Keep to yourself - Encourage students not to share personal items.
  • Use a barrier - Keep a towel or clothing between skin and shared equipment.
  • Hit the showers - Athletes and coaches participating in sports involving close contact, such as wrestling and football, should shower immediately after each practice, game or match.
  • Don't play dirty - Athletes should wash all athletic clothing after each use.

Coaches: You should check your team members regularly for skin infections and report any suspected MRSA infections to the athlete's parent.

Athletes: You should report any skin infections to your coach and parent.

Parents: If you suspect that your child has a MRSA infection, you should contact a licensed health care professional, especially if the infection is large, painful, warm to the touch, or does not heal by itself.

To learn more about how to help reduce the spread of MRSA in gyms or locker rooms, download our STOP MRSA Now Playbook.