Fears about MRSA staph infections spreading to Eastern Kentucky continue to worry parents and school administrators. Wednesday, a University of Louisville doctor and staph expert came to Paintsville to talk about why people are so concerned and what you can do to help become part of the solution.
Good personal hygiene is what Doctor Ruth Carrico says is everyone's best defense against MRSA. She says cleaning buildings and items is good, but everyone, including children, should focus on keeping their bodies clean to prevent getting staph.
Despite the recent staph scares, the Johnson County School District hasn't shut down.
"We have parents concerned for their children and we want them to understand that's our biggest concern too," said Johnson County School Superintendent Steve Trimble.
But administrators say they and other school districts get calls from parents wanting schools closed, but MRSA expert, Dr. Ruth Carrico, says closing the school is certainly not the answer. Dr. Carrico says people can only get staph from touching the bacteria. She says the real issue is not how clean the building is, but rather students not washing their hands enough and sharing items like clothes, towels, razors, or athletic equipment.
"What is the answer is addressing the behaviors that we know decrease transmission," Dr. Carrico said.
Dr. Carrico says the best way to prevent staph is to wash your hands a lot with anti-bacterial soap and quit sharing personal items. Coaches at the meeting took notes and are making changes.
"Not sharing. High school students like to share a lot of items whether it is socks or whatever they may forget, so we're going talk a little about that. Be more on the preventative side if we can," said Johnson Central Girls Basketball Coach Phillip Wireman.
Dr. Carrico says uniforms and athletic gear should be cleaned after every use and she says even though schools shouldn't close, officials should still frequently disinfect high touch areas.
"I think we make an extra effort to keep our schools clean and even more so now," Trimble said.
Dr. Carrico says the advice isn't just for students, she says staph bacteria is everywhere and mentioned you can get it in the grocery store touching a cart after an infected person. She says if everyone washes their hands a lot, you should be safe.