Over the past few years some dangerous Staph bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics. Only recently has the news media focused on this serious new health problem, which is of urgent concern to our schools. These killer bacteria, called methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus or “MRSA”, have recently caused panic in schools in the USA. Some infected students have become seriously ill and some have died after these antibiotic resistant bacteria invaded their blood stream. Most Staph bacteria only causes minor skin infections and are treated with antibiotics. Serious and deadly infections however, develop when antibiotic resistant bacteria (MRSA) is involved. The best methods for prevention of all types of Staph infections involve general cleaning strategies which can be incorporated into the routine cleaning practices at all schools. Here are some tips for limiting the possibility of Staph bacteria infecting your students:
1.) Establish a daily and routine environmental cleaning schedule for your school restrooms and dining areas. The cleaning staff should be trained and monitored to be sure they understand and practice thorough and effective cleaning procedures. Your local health department can provide advice on procedures.
2.) Use germicidal products or a solution of 1 part chlorine bleach and 9 part water to clean any surface that is subject to frequent touching by students, including light switches, doorknobs, faucet handles, hand rails and all restroom fixtures. Use soap and water at a minimum, preferably an all-purpose cleaner, for a daily cleaning of all other floors and surfaces.
3.) Install automatic soap dispensers, automatic hand dryers and automatic paper towel dispensers. These touch-free automatic dispensers will reduce student’s exposure to appliances that are frequently the source of hand transmitted bacteria. like Staph. If your school still utilizes the old manual hands-on dispensers it will be nearly impossible to clean them frequently enough to eliminate the spread of bacteria.
4.) Immediately clean up any surface that has a visible body fluid contamination such as blood, urine or other body fluid.
5.) Make sure automatic soap dispensers and automatic paper towel dispensers are filled with product at all times. This should be part of the cleaning personnel daily routine. Refill the dispensers daily.
6.) Encourage good hygiene. Students should be cautioned against sharing water bottles and personal items, encourages to shower after gym classes and other physical activities.
7.) Require that students cover cuts, abrasions and lesions with a proper dressing (bandage) until healed. Athletics staff should monitor this closely among their athletes.
8.) Clean all items used in athletic activities with an all-purpose cleaner and wash uniforms after each use.
9.) Publish, articulate and post reminders to staff and employees the importance of frequent hand washing with soap and water or the use of germicidal hand gels. Your schools restrooms and cafeteria should have warning signs posted in highly visible areas reminding everyone that hand washing is a requirement of your facility and is everyone’s responsibility.
Following these simple cleaning routines will greatly reduce you schools risk of bacterial infections of all types, including Staph and viruses, such as the flu, and the common cold.