MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) is a bacterial infection that is highly resistant to some antibiotics.
The bacteria can cause infection when they enter the body, generally through a cut or sore, and can be minor and local, such as a pimple, or more serious and involve the heart, lungs or blood. Serious staph infections may lead to sepsis (blood poisoning), pneumonia and toxic shock syndrome. Organ failure and death can result from untreated MRSA infections.
A local mother was told the pool was a likely culprit when she took her 11-year-old daughter to the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center to be treated for MRSA.
She told the Courier that her daughter contracted the infection after swimming in the pool after it had a fecal matter incident. She said two other girls also contracted MRSA after swimming in the pool. Her daughter’s underarm infection started off looking like a pimple and grew to golf ball size.
Her symptoms subsided after treatment with antibiotics, but MRSA generally remains dormant in an infected person and can flare up again.
“I just want some answers,” the mother said. “She’s stuck with it for the rest of her life.”
According to Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Laurie Armstrong, the pool staff handled the fecal incident appropriately. In addition to her club duties, Armstrong also oversees the Safford pool.
She said pool staff removed the matter, initiated a slurry of highly concentrated chlorine and closed the pool for two hours as per regulations.
“Whatever is in the (excrement) is dead the minute it goes into the pool,” Armstrong said.
It’s generally advised to avoid using pools if a person has MRSA, open wounds or cuts, but the chlorine in a properly maintained swimming pool will kill MRSA and other staph infections, according to Microbiologist Michelle Moore.
Not all pools and spas are properly maintained, however, and MRSA cases are common in locker room situations where it is more easily transferred through close contact. MRSA generally lives on the skin of an infected person and can be transferred through sharing bathroom items, such as razors or towels.
“When pools and spas are maintained appropriately, they will kill MRSA and staph bacteria in the water fairly quickly, making it fairly unlikely for anyone to get MRSA from a pool,” Moore wrote in her staph infection resources blog.
“However, improperly maintained pools or spas have had MRSA isolated from them, and they are suspect in transmitting MRSA from person to person.”
Grounds maintenance supervisor Junior Patton told the