Facilities working to prevent staph infections

It’s shut down a Kentucky school district, caused hours of extra cleaning for schools, daycare centers and jails in the tri-state, put several people in the hospital and is only visible under a microscope.

Though more than 90,000 cases of MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, are reported each year, after the death of a 17-year-old in Virginia in early October, the spotlight on MRSA has grown to the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati area, as cases have been reported in area schools and jails.

The increased awareness of the bacteria has caused an increase in cleaning protocols and even the closings of schools, according to news reports by the Associated Press.

Even at Northern Kentucky University, maintenance employees have increased the frequency of cleaning bathrooms and locker rooms.

NKU’s staff uses the cleaning solution Virex TB, which is a hospital-quality formula designed to clean restrooms, garbage storage areas, cans and bins. According to its Web site, it can be used on any non-porous inanimate surface including walls, tables and chairs.

According to Chuck Pettit, superintendent of custodial services, the maintenance staff has become more conscious of the frequency it cleans each day.

“We are taking more of a cautious view of what we do,” he said.

Assistant Vice President of Facilities Management Larry Blake said though restrooms and locker rooms are the main foci, desks and tabletops are still getting wiped about every week or two.

Karen L. Campbell, assistant director of NKU Wellness, issued an e-mail to the campus community regarding the recent reports and ways to prevent both spreading the bacteria and contracting it. Campbell said the campus recreation department has received calls regarding MRSA.

“Recent news reports regarding MRSA infections at various locations around the area have understandably prompted concerns among students, faculty and staff,” she said in the e-mail. “Our custodial staff has been alerted and in addition to the routine cleaning processes, extra precautions are being taken.

Efforts are being made to make certain that commonly touched surfaces are disinfected.”

She has compiled the following information regarding from the Centers for Disease Control and the Northern Kentucky Health Department. The following are answers to commonly asked questions about the bacteria.


Staphylococcus, known as staph, is a common bacterium found on the skin. What sets the MRSA bacteria infection apart from other staph bacteria infections is that it is resistant to certain antibiotics (the penicillin family), which makes it harder to treat. However, a MRSA bacteria infection can be successfully treated with other antibiotics.

Protect against it

Students can protect themselves from infection by: