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UTPA taking steps to ensure a healthy campus
By Melissa C. Rodriguez, Public Affairs Representative
316-7192
Posted: 10/26/2007
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With recent local and national news reports of a serious form of staph infection in schools and communities throughout the country, officials at The University of Texas-Pan American are working diligently to ensure a safe and healthy environment on campus.

“It’s important that the institution has policies in place that do not result in or facilitate an infection in the UTPA community,” Dr. Richard Costello, director of environmental health and safety, said. “We are reevaluating our cleaning methods to ensure that facilities are properly disinfected according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommendations and that procedures are in place to make sure that common equipment, such as in a weight room, is properly disinfected on a regular basis.”

Staph infections, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, (MRSA) which is a type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics, occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and health care facilities who have weakened immune systems. MRSA is primarily a skin infection which often resembles a pimple, boil or spider bite, but quickly worsens into an abscess or puss-filled blister or sore.

Director of Student Health Services Rick Gray wants the campus community to know that adopting habits of good personal hygiene and taking proactive measures are the most important factors in reducing the spread of MRSA and many other disease-causing organisms. Posters are now being displayed around campus to reiterate good hygiene tips and educate the campus community.

All buildings on campus are equipped with hand washing facilities and hand soap for use by all staff, faculty, and students, he said. The sharing of personal items such as towels, razors, cosmetics, and bar soaps should be avoided.

“In the health services facility, we have disinfectant and hand washing supplies and equipment at every treatment station in the clinic. All staff is trained on a regular basis in infection control procedures and compliance with those procedures is monitored on a regular basis,” Gray said.

Additionally individuals should keep open skin lesions such as boils, insect bites or cuts covered with a clean dry dressing, he said. Use a barrier such as a towel or clothing between your skin and shared equipment and take a shower if there is significant skin to skin contact after an activity such as a basketball game.

“MRSA has been a fact of life in the health care setting and the community in general for many years,” he said. “The UTPA Student Health Center is always willing and ready to provide training and education to any campus group interested and to answer any questions from a concerned student, staff, faculty, or parent.”

For more information, contact Gray at 956/381-2511.

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