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For Release:
October 24, 2007

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Thomas Slater

DHSS: Individuals with Staph Infections Need to Follow Doctor’s Advice -- Revised




The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) urges individuals who have possible skin infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), to seek medical attention and follow their health care provider’s advice, especially when taking prescribed antibiotics for treatment.


“Staph bacteria are one of the most frequent causes of skin infections in the country and, while most of the time these skin infections are minor, staph can also cause serious infections,” said Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. “Individuals who have a  possible wound or skin infections need to see their physicians, have it properly diagnosed and treated, and follow their provider’s advice on taking medication.”


“If an antibiotic is prescribed, it is critical to take all the antibiotics, even if the infection is getting better.  Don’t share antibiotics with other people or save unfinished antibiotics for use at another time.”


MRSA bacteria are not new, but infections caused by MRSA have been increasing for years among certain groups of people such as hospital patients, prisoners, nursing home residents, athletes, military recruits and people with weak immune systems. 


These are groups of people that either live, work or play in close contact with each other, people who have direct skin contact with each other or share equipment or personal items.


“As in other states, single cases of community-associated MRSA are not reportable in New Jersey, and as a result, we do not have statistics on the exact number of MRSA cases in New Jersey,” said State Epidemiologist and Deputy Commissioner Eddy Bresnitz, M.D.      “ However, we do know there are cases occurring throughout New Jersey, just like there are cases occurring throughout the rest of the country.  Approximately 30 percent of  the general population is colonized with staphylococcus aureus and 1 percent with MRSA, which means the bacteria can live in their nose or on their skin without causing an infection.”


Staph bacteria, including MRSA, are almost always spread by direct physical contact.  Staph bacteria are not spread through the air.  The bacteria can also spread when people come into contact with objects that have been contaminated with the bacteria.  These objects include soiled towels, clothing, bedding, gym or sports equipment, soiled bandages, bars of soap, contaminated surfaces, etc.


To prevent MRSA or other staph infections, schools can:

  • Provide students/parents with information about MRSA and preventive behaviors.
  • Encourage frequent handwashing by students and employees.
  • Encourage proper personal hygiene among students and employees such as showering after sports activities, wearing clean clothing, etc.
  • Discourage the sharing of personal items such as clothing, towels, bar soap, sports equipment, etc.
  • Ensure proper environmental cleaning with EPA approved disinfectants.
  • Ensure that sports equipment, including uniforms, is cleaned after each use.


Where can we get more information?

The NJDHSS website has resources for schools and athletic settings.  Please visit or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at


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