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LIU Post: Athlete was treated for MRSA

An athlete at LIU Post was diagnosed and treated for the bacterial infection known as MRSA, and other ill students were being tested, campus officials said Wednesday.

"One athlete was diagnosed and treated for MRSA last week," said William Milford, director of medical services at the Brookville campus.

"The field house and athletic facilities are thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis," he said. "Since this occurrence, the recreational and athletic facilities have been disinfected and sanitized."

The school did not say which sport the athlete played or whether other athletes or students were at risk.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics. Most community-based MRSA infections are on the skin, and most commonly occur in athletic facilities, dormitories, military barracks, correctional facilities, and day care centers, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Patients may contract skin rashes, but in health care settings, the CDC says, people potentially can contract life-threatening infections -- such as in the bloodstream and at surgical sites -- or pneumonia.

The school reported the MRSA case to health officials, though it was not required to do so. "We have reached out to county health officials to confirm the status of the one student who was provided antibiotics and released from the hospital," Milford said in a statement. "We have no evidence of a wider impact and will continue to follow best-practice medical protocols to ensure the safety and well-being of our students."

Milford added: "To protect the student's privacy, we cannot provide any further identifying information."

Nassau County health department spokeswoman Mary Ellen Laurain said the MRSA case was not confirmed by a laboratory.

"The athlete was treated empirically by the provider. The lesion from the athlete was not cultured and therefore will not be confirmed," Laurain said.

A school or other nonhospital institution is not required to report a single case of MRSA, but Laurain said, "We highly recommend it."

A cluster of two or more cases in a similar setting -- such as the same classroom or team -- must be reported, Laurain said.

There were apparently other suspected cases of MRSA among LIU athletes.

"We do have some ill players that are being treated and taken care of," athletic director Bryan Collins said before the university suspected MRSA case was diagnosed.

"I know there are kids that are being checked out and we are waiting for results . . . We've been all through this before, and we're prepared to deal with it," said Collins, who is also the school's football coach. "We have all the tools and the resources to deal with it in the right way."

The best way to prevent transmission of MRSA is to use good personal hygiene, including not sharing personal items such as razors, headgear and towels, public health officials said.

With Steven Marcus


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