In fall of 2003, an outbreak of Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) occurred in Mecklenburg County involving athletes and non-athletes in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System. CA-MRSA is characterized by common skin infections such as abscesses or boils that are infected with a type of “Staph” bacteria that are resistant to some common antibiotics most notably penicillin. Recognition of CA-MRSA as an emerging pathogen in the community setting is critical for implementing prevention and control interventions. The emphasis on prevention and control versus eradication of the MRSA organism is particularly important in the community setting. Due to the prevalence of “Staph” organisms in the environment, high prevalence of skin infections among children, and controversial reporting status, CA-MRSA presents a significant challenge to health professionals and clinicians in identifying cases or outbreaks.
In response to this outbreak the Mecklenburg County Health Department developed an educational video, brochure, and website with a fact sheet to educate athletes, parents, athletic personnel, and the public about proper hygiene procedures used to prevent and control this type of infection. Pre and post tests were administered along with the video to a sample of high school athletes to assess current hygiene knowledge, attitudes, and practices. Pre/Post testing showed:
- 86.4% increase in knowledge and attitude of effectiveness of hand washing,
- 6.4% in showering,
- 240.4% in cleaning shared equipment, and
- 145.4% in reporting suspicious sores to their school nurse or healthcare provider.