Rockport Public Schools

 COVID-19/Fall Reopening Updates

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  1. When should I keep my child home from school?
  2. What if my child has lice? 
  3. Do you have any information on Backpacks? 
  4. I am feeling really tired and sleep deprived. What can I do? 
  5. How can I begin to exercise? 
  6. Are you taking care of your teeth? 
  7. Are you having headaches and feeling tired in the afternoon? 
  8. Do you have any resources on Tobacco Use and Cessation? 
  9. Do you have any tips for safe winter fun? 
  10. Do you have any information on safety while skating/ice fishing? 
  11. Do you have any information on safety around the holidays? 
  12. What is bullying? 
  13. Sports and Teens 
  14. How much sleep should my child have each night? 
  15. How safe are Fireworks? Are they legal in Massachusetts? 
  16. What is the MRSA? Why is the fuss about on the news lately? 
  17. Why Is Hand Washing So Important? 
  18. How do I talk with Teens about Sex? 
  19. What is MRSA? 
  20. What is Antibiotic Resistance?


When should I keep my child home from school?

A child with vomiting or diarrhea should be kept home for at least 24 hours after the symptoms have resolved.

A child with a fever of 100 degrees F or above, or a fever that produces chills, muscle aches, sore throat, or sweating should remain at home until 24 hours after the fever has resolved.

Strep Throat, Conjunctivitis and Impetigo require 24 hours of medication before a student can return to school.

Head Lice requires treatment and removal of all nits before a child can return to school. The parent and child MUST CHECK IN WITH THE NURSING OFFICE before going to class. 

Chickenpox cases must stay home until all lesions are scabbed over -- approx. 7 days from the last eruption.

A child with a rash or skin condition that is undiagnosed by a physician shall remain at home or attend school after seeking medical evaluation of the rash. 




What if my child has lice?

If signs of active lice/nits are detected on your child, we will send the child home.  We will need to see the PARENT AND CHILD in the school nursing office after treatment. The nurse will perform a quick head check prior to entry to the classroom. 


Confidentiality of the infected person is maintained by the nurses, but it's important to notify the teachers so we can properly clean the classrooms.PLEASE SEE the nurses for a new, over the counter treatment (Cetaphil cleanser)




Do you have any information on Backpacks?

The issue: The familiar sight of students carrying backpacks stuffed with textbooks, supplies, lunches, winter clothes and more is becoming a major health concern in schools.


The spine is made of 33 bones called Vertebrae. Between the vertebrae are disks that act as natural shock absorbers. When a backpack is too heavy, the child arches the back or leans the head and trunk forward to compensate for the weight of the bag. This stresses the muscles in the back and neck, and increases the risk of muscle fatigue and injury.


When you choose the right backpack, look for the following:


  1. Wide, padded shoulder straps
  2. Two Shoulder straps
  3. Padded back
  4. Waist Strap
  5. Light backpack
  6. Rolling backpack-particularly if the student is smaller, or for students who carry a heavy load. 




I am feeling really tired and sleep deprived. What can I do?

We see lots of tired students in the office. We really need to take care of  ourselves. 
Here are some tips to help you (hopefully):


  1. Try to get to bed at the same time each night.

  2. Try to get out of bed at the same time each morning.

  3. Try to exercise 20-30 minutes each day.

  4. Avoid caffeine: soda, tea, coffee and chocolate. Diet pills also have caffeine.

  5. Avoid nicotine. Smokers tend to sleep lightly and wake up due to nicotine withdrawal.

  6. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol limits deep and REM sleep. Your brain needs this type of sleep to unwind.

  7. Relax before going to bed. Take a good book with you.

  8. Wake up with the sun; but at times, this is not possible. Use bright lights in the morning to reset your biological clock.

  9. Don't lie in bed awake. try to listen to music, read or watch TV until you are tired.

  10. Make sure the temperature in your bedroom is comfortable.

If you are constantly having problems sleeping, see your Doctor or Nurse Practitioner. It's so important to sleep well each night. 



How can I begin to exercise?

Although it's cold outside, it's time to get motivated to exercise!  If you haven't exercised, be sure to chat with your doctor or nurse practitioner before you begin. This is especially important if you have a medical condition.


Start out with a brief exercise after school. Take a dog for a walk, walk around town, or workout on a bike or treadmill.  Don't buy all expensive clothing, just wear sweats and a sturdy pair of sneakers.


Be sure to warm up before you exercise and cool down after.  If you don't, you can injure your muscles. Be sure to keep hydrated with water during your exercise.




Are you taking care of your teeth?

Is your breath in need of mints? Are your teeth yellow?  Do you smoke?  Are you prone to cavities?  We really need to take care of our teeth. Our teeth need to last throughout our entire lives.

Rockport Public Schools understand the importance of dental hygiene.   Students need to brush and floss teeth regularly.


  1. All health classes will be receiving toothbrushes during the month of February.

  2. Brush your teeth for 2-3 minutes. This will help kill the bacteria.  These bacteruim cause acid which destroy our teeth.

  3. Brush your teeth after meals. Bacteria use sugar from foods. If you can't brush, try to wash down food with water. Sugarless gum can also help to stimulate saliva. This saliva helps to break down bacteria. This will also help to freshen your breath.

  4. Don't brush your teeth with a lot of pressure. This increased pressure can cause receding gums and sensitive teeth.

  5. Cut out the morning coffee. This coffee will stain your teeth. Coffee also provides a constant source of sugar. 

  6. Stop smoking. Smoke will yellow those "pearly whites".

  7. Visit your Dentist every 6 months, or as often as your Dentist suggests. It is very important to have your teeth clean and your breath fresh.


We have seen some injuries to teeth in our office. In the US, more than 5 milion teeth have been knocked out last year. Almost 60% of these injuries occur in UNORGANIZED sports. MOUTHGUARDS can also help guard the jaw and the brain against a concussion after the injury. Sports where a mouth injury can occur include: football, soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball and wrestling. A great website is: and



Are you having headaches and feeling tired in the afternoon?

How many of you are drinking enough water each day? This lack of water can lead us to feel tired and have headaches. This is especially true during the early afternoon hours. This is why we encourage a few glasses of water when you visit the nursing office for a headache. We also encourage students to  carry a CLEAR water bottle with you. Keep a water bottle in the locker, and refill as needed.




Do you have any resources on Tobacco Use and Cessation?

Tobacco Use is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people each year. This total is more than the number of deaths caused by AIDS, alchohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides, and fires combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The good news is that people can successfully break the smoking habit. All it takes is a firm decision to quit, along with some hard work, persistence, and the right kind of support.

A number of health and safety risks are associated with smoking, including:


  • Increased rish of fire, injury, and automobile crashes
  • Upper respiratory diseases like colds, flu, sinus infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia
  • Heart disease
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphomas
  • Emphysema
  • Mouth and throat cancers
  • Stroke



  • Your chances of a heart attack decreases
  • Your ability to smell and taste is enhanced.
  • Your lungs work better and breathing becomes easier
  • Your blood circulation improves
  • Your rish for lung cancer decreases
  • New healthy cells replace pre-cancerous cells



  • Prepare for success. A positive mindset can help you follow through on your plans
  • Decide on a timeframe in which you will quit
  • Substitute one or two new healthier habits to replace smoking. Nibble on fresh fruit or veggies when the urge to smoke comes on. Go for a walk or a job when the urge gets too great.
  • Try nicotine replacement therapy
  • Find a support group to help you through the hard times.



Smoking is a behavior that is learned over a period of time. After a while, it can become linked with other activities such as drinking coffee, talking on the phone, driving in the car, or eating a meal. These other activities become triggers, events that have tight connections to the urge to smoke. Changing these triggers can help you to manage to quit smoking. Three ways to manage smoking triggers include:

If you smoke with your coffee, then don't drink coffee. Have your juice or something different


Sit in the nonsmoking section at the restaurant/cafe.


Keep something in your free hand when you are on the phone: a pen, a small toy, a photo.



  • Distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task
  • Change your routine. Use a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place.
  • Do something to reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book
  • Plan somehting enjoyalbe to do every day
  • Drink a lot of water and other fluids


You don't have to smoke to be at risk for the hazards caused by tobacco use. Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) or secondhand smoke contains hundreds of dangerous substances that kill 60,000 Americans each year and cause cancer and other health problems.


  • Do not smoke in your home or permit others to do so
  • Ask anyone who smokes to go outside
  • If someone smokes in the house, open the windows or use an exhaust fan to  increase ventilation
  • Keep children away from anyone who smokes
  • Support smoking bans in your community
  • If smoking is allowed at restaurants in your area, frequent those that do NOT allow it on their premises or at least ask to be seated in the non-smoking sections.




Do you have any tips for safe winter fun?

Avoid Frostbite: Dress warmly and set reasonable time limits on outdoor play.


Pedestrian Safety: Keep slippery driveways and sidewalks well shoveled. Apply material for traction such as rock salt to avoid slips and falls. Dress children in bright colors (not white) clothing in snowy weather.


Snow skiing: Enroll in at least one lesson, and never ski alone. Use caution around lifts, control your speed and be aware of other skiers. Wear eye and sun protection. Ski helmets are also recommended.




Do you have any information on safety while skating/ice fishing?

Each winter, many residents are injured from exposure in cold water incidents. Skaters and ice fishermen fall through the ice: boaters and canoeists overturn their crafts.


Ice on moving water in rivers, streams and brooks is NEVER safe. The thickness of ice on ponds and lakes depends upon water currents or springs, depth and natural objects such as tree stumps or rocks. Daily changes in temperature cause the ice to expand and contract, which affects its strength.

Because of these factors, no one can declare the ice to be absolutely "SAFE".


  1. Act quickly and call 911 for help immediately

  2. DO NOT go out onto the ice.

  3. Reach, Throw or Row: Extend a branch, pole or ladder to the victim. Throw them a bouyant object such as a life ring or float tied to a rope. If a boat is nearby, row out to the victim or push it out towards them. 



Do you have any information on safety around the holidays?

Tree Safety

  • Never use candles as decorations
  • Keep tree away from heat
  • Never leave a lit tree unattended
  • Dispose of your tree properly, soon after the holiday before the needles dry out
  • Artificial trees should have a fire retardant label
  • Use a "non-tip" type of stand


Keep the season bright

  • Watch the lights!
  • Unplug all lighting before retiring for the evening or leaving the house
  • Blow out all the candles before leaving the room.  Don't leave candles burning unattended.
  • Purchase lights and electric decorations which are approved by a testing agency (such as UL)
  • Check all lighting for frayed wires, broken plugs, sockets, etc
  • Never overload outlets. Use no more than 3 strands of lights on a single extension cord
  • Never hang lights on a metallic tree
  • Always use appropriate weather proof lights outdoors.




What is bullying?

Bullying among children is aggressive behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power or strength. A child who is being bullied has a hard time defending himself or herself. Bullying can take many forms such as: hitting and/or punching (physical bullying); teasing or name-calling (verbal bullying) intimidation through gestures or social exclusion (nonverbal bullying or emotional bullying) and sending insulting messages by phone or computer email (cyber bullying).  Ususally, bullying is repeated over time. Many children, particularly boys, and older children and youth, don't tell their parents or adults at school about being bullied.  It is important that adults are vigilant to possible signs of bullying.

Possible warning signs that a child is being bullied:

  • Comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books or other belongings
  • Has unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
  • Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time
  • Takes a long, "illogical" route when walking to or from school
  • Has lost interest in school work or suddendly begins to do poorly in school
  • Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical ailments
  • Appears sad, moody, teary or depressed when he or she comes home from school
  • Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
  • Experiences a loss of appetite
  • Appears anxious and/or suffers from low self esteem


Bullying can have serious consequences. Children and youth who are bullied are more likely than other children to:

  • Be depressed, lonely, anxious
  • Have low self esteem
  • Be absent from school
  • Feel sick
  • Think about suicide


Children frequently do NOT tell their parents that they are being bullied because they are embarassed, ashamed, frightened of children who are bullying them, or are afraid of being seen as a "tattler". If your chld tells you about being bullied, it has taken a lot of courage to do so. Your child needs your help to stop the bullying.

If your child shows any of the above signs, this does not necessarily mean that he or she is being bullied.This may mean it's a possibility worth exploring. What should you do? Talk with your child and talk with staff at school to learn more.


Talk with your child. Tell your child you are concerned about him or her and that you would like to help. Here are some questions that can get the discussion going:

"I am worried about you. Are there any kids at school who may be picking on you or bullying you?"
"Are there any kids at school who tease you in a mean way?"
"Are there any kids at school who leave you out of things on purpose?"
"DO you have any special friends at school this year? Who are they? Who do you hang out with?"
"Who do you sit with at lunch and on the bus?"
"Are there any kids at school who you really don't like>? Why don't you like them? Do they ever pick on you?

Talk with your child's teacher. He or she may be the best person to understand your child and peers' relationships. Share your concerns with the teacher. Ask questions such as: 


"How does my child get along with other students in his/her class?"


"With whom does he/she spend free time?"


"Have you noticed or have you ever suspected that my child is being bullied by other students?"
Give examples of some ways that children are being bullied. Ask your teacher to chat with some other adults in school who interact with your child to see if they have noticed any bullying. If you obtain information that leads you to believe your child is being bullied, take action. Bullying can have serious effects on children. If you don't suspect your child is being bullied, stay vigilant to other possible problems that yoiur child may be having. A number of the warning signs: depression, social isolation, loss of interest in school may be signs of other serious problems. Share your concerns with a counselor at your child's school.



  1. Focus on your child. Never tell your child to ignore the bully. What the child may hear is that you are going to ignore it. If the child were able to tell you about it, he doesn't want the problem ignored. Often, trying to ignore the bullying allows it to become more serious. 

  2. Don't blame the child who is being bullied. Do't assume that your child did somethng to provoke the bullying.  

  3. Listen carefuly to what your child tells you about the bullying. Ask him/her to describe who was involved and how each bullying episode payed out. 

  4. Learn as much as you can about the bullying tactics used, when, and the bullying happened. Can you child name other children or adults who may have witnessed the bullying?

  5. Sympathize with your child. Tell him/her that bullying is wrong and that you are glad he/she had the courage to tell you about it. Ask what he/she thinks can be done to help. Assure him/her that you will think about what needs to be done, and will let him/her know what will be done.

  6. If you disagree with how your child handled the situation, don't criticize him/her.

  7. Don't encourage physical retaliation. Hitting another student is not likely to resolve the problem. Your child could get suspended/expelled.

  8. Check your emotions. A parents' protective instincts stir up strong emotions. ALthough it is difficult, it's wise for a parent to step back and consider the next steps carefully.

  9. Parents are often reluctant to report bullying to school officials, but bullying probably won't stop until you do. 
  10. Keep your emotions in check. Give factual information about your child's bullying situation: when, where, who, what and how.

  11. Emphasize the fact that you want to work with the school staff to find a solution to stop the bullying, and for the sake of your child and others.

  12. Don't contact the parents of the student who is the bully. This is usually a parent's first response.

  13. Expect the bullying to stop. Talk regularly with your child and the school staff to see if the bullying has stopped. If not, repeat your contacts at school.

  14. Help to develop your child's talents and positive attributes. This may help your chid be more confident among his/her peers.

  15. Encourage your child to make contact with friendly students in class. Your child's teacher may be able to suggest students with whom your child can make friends, spend time, and collaborate on work.

  16. Teach your child safety strategies. Teach him/her to seek help from an adult when he/she feels threatened. Talk about whom he/she should to go for help and rehearse what to say. Assure your child that reporting bullying is not tattling. 

  17. Help your child meet new friends outside of the school environment. A new environment can provide a fresh start.

  18. Ask yourself if your child is being bullied because of a learning difficulty or a lack of social skills? If your child is hyperactive, impulsive, or overly talkative, the child who bullies may be reacting out of annoyance. This doesn't make bullying right, but may help to explain why the child is being bullied.

  19. If your child easily irritates people, seek help from a counselor so your child can better learn the informal social rules of his/her peer group. 

  20. Finally, keep the home environment safe and loving. Keep the communication lines open.




Sports and Teens

Physically Active Teens Stay Out of Trouble 
Is Your Child Sports-Safe?  
By: Amy Norton  

Teenagers who stay active, participating in anything from football to skateboarding, are less likely than their sedentary peers to smoke, drink or take other health risks, new research shows. 

Much has been made about the importance of exercise in fighting the swelling problem of childhood obesity. But just as important are the effects regular physical activity can have on kids behavior, according to Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen, the lead author of the new study. 

There are clearly benefits to exercise other than weight control, said Gordon-Larsen, an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

And kids who spend their free time in front of the TV are missing out on those benefits, she added. 

"Its clear that there can be adverse effects of watching TV." Gordon-Larsen said, pointing to research that has linked violent or sexual content in television shows to kids behavior. 

But beyond whatever effects media may have, she said, children who spend their free time on the couch miss out on the socialization, team work and skill development that comes with being active. 

Among the nearly 12,000 middle- and high-school students in her study, those who were physically active were less likely than their couch-potato peers to smoke, drink, use drugs or have sex. Also, they often had higher self-esteem and better grades. 

"Across the board, children who engaged in any kind of activity were better off than kids who watched a lot of TV." said Gordon-Larsen. 

The findings, which are published in Pediatrics, also show that activity does not simply mean traditional sports. 

Kids who favored "alternative" activities, like skateboarding, had higher self-esteem and were less prone to taking health risks, Gordon-Larsen pointed out. 

The bottom line for parents, according to the researcher, is that they should encourage their kids to pursue whatever physical activities they happen to enjoy. 

If mom and dad can handle a skateboard themselves, even better. Teens in the study who engaged in sports and exercise with their parents were particularly likely to stay on the straight and narrow.




How much sleep should my child have each night?

Less Sleep May Mean More Weight for Kids 
By: Karen Barrow

Is sleeping the key to staying lean? The less time your child spends asleep, the more likely he or she may become overweight, new research shows. In fact, sleeping fewer than ten hours a night may make a child significantly more likely to become overweight than a child who sleeps away half the day. Lack of sleep seems to play a larger role in weight gain than time spent watching television and lack of physical activity. 

Researchers from the University of Laval in Quebec looked at the lifestyles, habits, body mass index and waist size of 422 children between the ages of 5 and 10. In all, 20 percent of boys and 24 percent of girls in the study wereoverweight. After analyzing the data, researchers discovered that those children who slept fewer than 10 hours a night were 3.5 times more likely to be overweight than those who slept more than 12 hours a night. Other factors that may contribute to weight gain, including time spent watching television, parental education, family income and regular physical activity, were found to have much lower impact on a child becoming overweight. 

The results may seem strange, but historically, as weight has gone up, the time Americans have spent in bed has dwindled. Between 1960 and 2000, obesity rates for the general population doubled and the average length of sleepdropped an average of one to two hours. Additionally, the percentage of young adults who slept fewer than seven hours increased from 16 percent to 37 percent. 

One possible explanation for the connection between lack of sleep and weight, according to Dr. Jean Philippe Chaput and colleagues, is that, during sleep, the body regulates the levels of certain hormones that make us feel either hungry or satiated. In other words, excess time in bed may help the body stave off hunger pains. 

"It is somewhat paradoxical that sleeping, the most sedentary of all activities, may be associated with leanness," writes Chaput. 

But don't think you can snooze your way through weight loss. Chaput explains that increasing both the length of time sleeping and one's activity levels during the day may be the best approach to maintaining a healthy body weight.




How safe are Fireworks? Are they legal in Massachusetts?


-All across the state, there are many professional fireworks displayssupervised by local fire departments. Unfortunately, too many children andadult amateurs continue to set off fireworks that start fires, and causeserious injuries to themselves and others. 

 -A 45 year old Gloucester woman dies in a December 22,2003 house fire where someone threw fireworks and ignited the Christmas tree in the living room.Three other people were also injured. On May 20,1997 a 26 year old man fromWatertown  was killed while he was lighting fireworks in a hallway. A 27 yearold Framingham man was killed on July 4, 1993 wehn his backyard fireworksexploded in his face. On July 4, 1992, fireworks fatally injured a 30 year oldman on a beach in Fairhaven.

-The possession and use of all fireworks by private citizens is illegal inMassachusetts. This includes Class C fireworks which are sometimes falselycalled: "safe and sane", such as: sparklers, firecrackers, spinners and cherry bombs to name a few. Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees F.

-The distribution of mailorder catalogues that clearly state that fireworks are illegal in some jurisdictions cannot be prohibited. State and local policeregularly confiscate illegal shipments of fireworks into Massachusetts. Many unhappy consumers have lost both their money and the fireworks trying to circumvent the law.

-If you use fireworks, children will imitate you and not realize how very dangerous they are. Sixty percent of the fireworks-related burn injuries reported by hospitals to the Office of the State Fire Marshal were children under age 18.

MFIRS facts:
-In the past decade(1997-2006)there have been 615 major fire and explosions incidents involving illegal fireworks reported to the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System. THese 615 fires and explosions caused two deaths,
15 civilian injuries, 8 fire service injuries, and an estimated dollar loss of: $1,478,026 . This is quite a substantial amount since most fireworks related fires are outside brush fires and do not usually have high loss
figures. A majority of the fires occurred during the week of the Fourth of July holiday. 

-ON July 4,2006, the New Bedford Fire Department was dispatched to a fire in a3 unit apartment building. Someone playing with fireworks accidentally ignited the roof on fire. Detectors were present, alerted the occupants and no one
was injured in the fire. Damages from this fire were estimated to be $20,000. 

-On July 2, 2006, The Boston Fire Department was dispatched to a car fire. Someone intentionally tossed some fireworks into the vehicle. Damages fromthis fire were estimated to be $1,000.

-On April 25, 2006, the Bolton Fire Department was called to a multiple car fire at Nashoba Regional High School. An 18 year old male student tossed a fire through the sunroof of one of the cars, igniting the front seat. Four other cars were destroyed  by the fire, and four other cars had heat damage.

For more information; please see:
Office of the State Fire Marshal
Department of Fire Services
PO box 1025
State Road 
Stow, MA 




What is the MRSA? Why is the fuss about on the news lately?

Questions and answers about Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
(MRSA)---What is MRSA?--MRSA is a kind of bacteria that is resistant to somekinds of antibiotics. To understand MRSA it is helpful to learn aboutStaphylococcus -aureus.

-What are staph?
--Staph are bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. About 25-30% of the U.S. population carry staph on their bodies at anytime.

-Do staph always make people sick?
--No. Many people carry staph in their nose or on their skin for a period of time and do not know they are carrying them. They do not have skin infections. They do not have any other signs or symptoms of illness. This is called
colonization. Sometimes, though, staph can cause an infection, especially pustules with the skin. These infections often contain pus, and may feel itchyand warm. Occasionally,staph cause more serious infections.

-How are staph spread?
--Staph are spread by direct skin-to-skin contact, such as shaking hands,wrestling, or other direct contact with the skin of another person. Staph are also spread by contact with items that have been touched by people with staph,
like towels shared after bathing and drying off, or shared athletic equipmentin the gym or on the ?eld. Staph infections start when staph get into a cut,scrape or other break in the skin. People who have skin infections painful, swollen pimples, boils, and rashes, for example should be very careful to avoid spreading their infection to others.

--Is Mrsa different from other staph?
MRSA is different from other staph because it cannot be treated with some antibiotics. When antibiotics are needed to treat a MRSA infection, the right antibiotic must be used. If the right antibiotic is not used, the treatment may not work.

MRSA is just like other staph in almost every other way: MRSA can be carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy 
people, and usually not cause an infection or make them sick. It can cause minor skin infections that go away without any special medical treatment. It is spread the same way as other staph. The symptoms are the same as other staph infections.

Sources are from the Massachusetts
Department of Public Health

Mrsa is sometimes said as a single word, mersa, or by saying all four letters, M-r-s-a

what are the symptoms of an infection caused by staph?

Pimples, rashes, pus-?lled boils, especially when warm, painful, red or swollen, can mean that you have a staph or MRSA skin infection. Occasionally, staph can also cause more serious problems such as surgical wound infections,bloodstream infections and pneumonia. The symptoms could include high fever, swelling, heat and pain around a wound, headache, fatigue and others.

-What should I do if I think I have a staph skin infection?
Keep the area clean and dry. See your doctor, especially if the infection is large, painful, warm to the touch, or does not heal by itself.

How will my doctor know if i have a Mrsa infection?
The only way to tell the difference between MRSA and other staph infections iswith lab tests. Lab tests will also help your doctor decide which antibiotic should be used for treatment, if antibiotic treatment is necessary.Your doctor will usually take a sample on a swab (like a Q-tip) from the infected area. The sample will be sent to a laboratory to see if the infection is caused by staph. Blood and other body ?uids can also be tested for staph.

-How are Mrsa infections treated?
--Most MRSA skin infections are treated by good wound and skin care: keeping the area clean and dry, washing your hands after caring for the area, carefully disposing of any bandages, and allowing your body to heal. Sometimes
treatment requires the use of antibiotics. Lab tests help your doctor decide which antibiotic should be used for treatment, if antibiotic treatment is necessary. If antibiotics are prescribed, it is important to use the medication as directed unless your doctor tells you to stop. If the infection has not improved within a few days after seeing your doctor, contact yourdoctor again.

How can I prevent a staph infection?
 Regular handwashing is the best way to prevent getting and spreading staph, including MRSA. Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially 
after direct contact with another persons skin. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until 
they have healed. Avoid contact with other peoples wounds or bandages. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, washcloths, toothbrushes andrazors. Sharing these items may transfer staph from one person to another. Keep your skin healthy, and avoid getting dry, cracked skin, especially during the winter.Healthy skin helps to keep the staph on the surface of your skin from causing an infection underneath your skin.

Contact your doctor if you have a skin infection that does not improve.

For more information about MRSA
visit the MdPH website at
Massachusetts Department of Public Health October 2006




Why Is Hand Washing So Important?

Find More
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

A delicious mud pie, a good-luck rock, or a friendly frog are just a few of the presents children love to bring home to Mom and Dad. But did you knowthat behind these adorable gifts - and countless others - millions of germs could be lurking? 

Kids may not always listen when you tell them to wash their hands before eating, but it's a message worth repeating. Hand washing is by far the bestway to prevent germs from spreading and to keep your kids from getting sick.

The First Line of Defense Against Germs
Germs - such as bacteria and viruses - can be transmitted several differentways, especially by touching dirty hands or changing dirty diapers. Other ways germs spread include: 


through contaminated water and food
through droplets released during a cough or a sneeze
through contaminated surfaces
through a sick person's body fluids


If kids pick up germs from one of these sources, they can unknowingly become infected simply by touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. And once they're infected, it's usually just a matter of time before the whole family comes down with the same illness.

Good hand washing is your first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses - and not just the common cold. More serious illnesses such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, influenza, hepatitis A, and most types of infectious diarrhea can be stopped with the simple act of washing your hands.

How to Wash Your Hands Correctly
Here are some simple steps for scrubbing those germs away. Demonstrate this routine to your child - or better yet, wash your hands together with yourchild several times a day so he or she learns how important this good habit is.

Wash your hands in warm water. Make sure the water isn't too hot for little hands. Use soap and lather up for about 10 to 15 seconds (antibacterial soap isn't necessary - any soap will do). Make sure you get in between the fingers and
under the nails where uninvited germs like to hang out. And don't forget the wrists! Rinse and dry well with a clean towel.To minimize the germs passed around your family, make frequent hand washing a rule for everyone, especially:

before eating and cooking
after using the bathroom
after cleaning around the house
after touching animals, including family pets
after visiting or taking care of any sick friends or relatives
after blowing one's nose, coughing, or sneezing
after being outside (playing, gardening, walking the dog, etc.)


Don't underestimate the power of hand washing! The few seconds you spend at the sink with your child could save you trips to the doctor's office.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD

Date reviewed: March 2007 




How do I talk with Teens about Sex?

Here are 10 tips from HEALTH QUARTERS www.

  1. Examine your own sexual attitudes and be ready to share them

  2. Establish an open and nonjudgmental environment

  3. Seek out "teachable moments" -news stories or life events that can spark conversation

  4. If you're asked a question, find out what prompted it.

  5. Be honest to avoid losing trust-kids can tell when they're being protected

  6. Answer clearly and briefly; offer more detail only if requested

  7. Set a positive tone-sexuality is a natural human interest and activity

  8. It's okay to admit that you don't know an answer; relax and learn together

  9. Set your own limits: you can explain without giving permission to experiment

  10. And, finally, talk often..but remember to listen more than talk 




What is MRSA?

About MRSA
(Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

General Information

    * What is MRSA?
    * What is Staphylococcus aureus?
    * Is MRSA different from other staph?
    * What are the symptoms of an infection caused by MRSA?
    * Does MRSA cause more serious infection than other staph?
    * Is MRSA the flesh-eating bacteria?
    * What should I do if I think I have a staph/MRSA infection?
    * How will my doctor know if I have a staph/MRSA infection?
    * How are MRSA infections treated?
    * How can I prevent a staph/MRSA infection?
    * For more information about staph/MRSA
    * Public Health Fact Sheets
    * MRSA Posters

What is MRSA?

MRSA stands for  methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

MRSA is a kind of Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria, that is resistant to some kinds of antibiotics. It is resistant to a family of antibiotics related to penicillin that includes antibiotics called  methicillin and oxacillin, and is often resistant to many other antibiotics as well.

Pronunciation: MRSA is sometimes said as a single word, mersa, or by saying all four letters, M-R-S-A. Either way is correct.

Photo of MRSA bacteria.
MRSA is a bacterium that is resistant to some kinds of treatment.

To understand MRSA it is helpful to learn about Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria, because MRSA is a kind of staph.


What is Staphylococcus aureus?

Staphylococcus aureus , often referred to as staph,are bacteria commonlycarried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. About 25-30% of the U.S. population carries staph on their bodies and yet the bacteria do not always cause illness or infection.

Do staph always make people sick?

No. There are many different strains of staph, and not all of them are harmful. Many people carry staph in their nose or on their skin and do notknow they are carrying them. They do not have skin infections. They do not have any other signs or symptoms of illness. This is called colonization.

Sometimes, though, staph can cause an infection, especially pimples, boils and other problems with the skin. Staph are one of the most common causes of skin infections in the United States. Also, staph occasionally can cause very serious illness when they get into the bloodstream, the lungs or a wound after surgery.


Staph in the Community 
25-30% of the healthy people in your community can have staph on their skin or in their nose. Staph are bacteria found on the skin and in the nose of manyhealthy people.

What kinds of infections do some people get from staph?
Staph can cause many kinds of skin infections, like pimples, boils, andrashes. These infections often contain pus, and may feel itchy or warm. They may be swollen or red. Occasionally, staph cause more serious infections such as surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia.

Image of a skin staph infection. Staph infection causing swelling and boils on the skin. Staph infection causing pus-filled boils on the skin.

Staph infections of the skin may look like these photos of staph infections.

How are staph spread?

Staph, including MRSA, are spread by direct skin-to-skin contact, such as shaking hands, wrestling, or other direct contact with the skin of another person.

Staph are also spread by contact with items that have been touched by people with staph, like towels shared after bathing and drying off, or shared athletic equipment in the gym or on the field.

Remember, most people who have staph on their skin do not have infections or illness caused by staph. These people are colonized with staph.

People who do have skin infections should be very careful to avoid spreading their infection to others. Steps to prevent spread are listed below.Skin infections start when bacteria get into a cut or scrape. Bacteria live on everyones skin and usually cause no harm. But when staphylococcus bacteria get into your body through a break in the skin, they can cause a staph infection. Staph infections may spread to other people through skin-to-skin contact and from shared items such as towels, soap, clothes and sports equipment.      


Staph infection on a cut on a wrist.

How are staph infections treated?

Staph skin infections may heal by themselves if kept clean and dry. Those thatdo not heal by themselves may need to be evaluated by a doctor. The doctor maydrain and clean an infected boil or wound or even prescribe an antibiotic. A
doctor should treat serious staph infections, like infection of the blood or pneumonia.


MRSA A Kind of Staph
Is MRSA different from other staph?

MRSA is a kind of staph. It can be carried on the skin or in the 
nose of
healthy people, and may never cause an infection or make them 
sick. It can
cause minor skin infections that go away without any special 
treatment. MRSA can cause skin infections that look just like 
caused by other staph. MRSA is also spread the same way as other 

Image of staphylococcus bacteria under a microscope.
Under a microscope, MRSA looks like any other kind of staph.

MRSA is different from other staph because it is resistant to treatment with some antibiotics. Although 25-30% of the U.S. population is colonized with staph, far fewer are colonized with MRSA. Most staph on peoples skin, and most staph causing skin infections, is not MRSA. However, MRSA is becoming increasingly common.



What is Antibiotic Resistance?

Antibiotic Resistance


    * What are bacteria and viruses?
    * What are antibiotics?
    * What is antibiotic resistance?
    * Why is antibiotic resistance a problem?
    * What causes antibiotic resistance?
    * When are antibiotics not needed? Can they really be 
    * How can I tell if an infection is bacterial or viral?
    * What kinds of infections are caused by viruses and should 
not be treated
with antibiotics?
    * What can I do to prevent antibiotic resistance?
    * What are some bacterial infections that are resistant to 
common antibiotics?
    * More information about antibiotic resistance

What are bacteria and viruses?
Bacteria and viruses are germs that can cause infections and disease, but they are very different in other ways. Most bacteria can live on their own, outside the body. Viruses can only live inside cells of the body. Most bacteria in the
world are good and play an important role in nature. Only some bacteria are capable of causing infections and diseases. Antibiotics do not kill viruses, and should not be used to treat viral illnesses.

What are antibiotics?
Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria, tiny germs that can cause infections and disease. Antibiotics have been used for many years to treat illnesses caused by bacteria. Many people are familiar with the antibiotic penicillin, which was discovered during the 1920s by Alexander Fleming. Antibiotics come in pill form, as syrups, as salves and ointments, and are also given by injection. Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria.

What is antibiotic resistance?
Each time you take an antibiotic, bacteria that are sensitive to the antibiotic are killed. Other bacteria are not killed as easily and may grow and multiply - they are resistant to the antibiotic.

Over many years, some bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat infections caused by these bacteria. Antibiotic resistance describes this process. These bacteria have slowly changed over time and are
no longer sensitive to some antibiotics. In other words, some antibiotics no longer work very well against some infections caused by resistant bacteria.

Staph skin infection on an arm. 
Some antibiotics no longer work against some infections caused by resistantbacteria.

Why is antibiotic resistance a problem?
For a single patient with a skin infection, or other bacterial infection, antibiotic resistance may mean that a prescribed medication does not work the way it is supposed to. This may result in an infection that does not heal as quickly, or other complications such as additional visits to the doctor, additional tests, and another prescription for a different 
antibiotic. The infection may get worse before resistance is discovered and the treatment is changed.

For the entire community, and all over the world, antibiotic resistance is a problem because many bacteria that cause infections are becoming moreresistant to commonly-used antibiotic treatments. New medications are slowly being developed to treat resistant bacteria.

What causes antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance is a natural process - stronger bacteria survive and multiply.

Unfortunately, the problem of antibiotic resistance is made worse when antibiotics are not used correctly or are used when they are not needed. This can happen with animals as well as people. Antibiotic overuse, and misuse, can
create the conditions for the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Millions of treatments with antibiotics are prescribed each year when not needed. Overuse of antibiotics in children is of particular concern because
the highest rates of antibiotic use occur among children. Fortunately, patients and doctors can work together to reduce antibiotic resistance. When are antibiotics not needed? Can they really be overused? Antibiotic resistance is natural, but happens faster when antibiotics are misused or overused. For example, antibiotics do not work against 
diseases caused by viruses (as mentioned above) but sometimes are prescribed and taken to treat viral illnesses. Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed but resistant bacteria may grow and multiply. 
Treating viral illnesses with antibiotics is a problem because it can lead to the development of resistant bacteria.

How can I tell if an infection is bacterial or viral?
This can be very difficult. Consult your doctor to be sure. Depending on the symptoms of the illness, sometimes doctors can be quite sure about the cause of the illness without ordering a test. For example, colds and the flu are viral illnesses (see below). Sometimes it is necessary for a doctor to order a test to determine whether an illness is due to a virus orbacteria.

Knowing what causes an illness is important, because antibiotics do not kill viruses and should not be prescribed or taken to treat viruses. Remember: antibiotics do not kill viruses!

Antibiotics can only be used to treat infections caused by 

What do you think?

Colds are caused by viruses. When Maureen gets a cold she usually 
heads right
to the doctor to try to get a prescription for an antibiotic. 
What would you
tell her about using antibiotics to treat viral illness?

What kinds of infections are caused by viruses and should not be 
treated with

    * Colds
    * Flu
    * Most coughs and bronchitis
    * Sore throats (except for those resulting from strep)

What can I do to prevent antibiotic resistance?

    * Talk to your doctor about antibiotic resistance.
    * Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a 
cold, a cough, or
the flu. Antibiotics should be used only to treat bacterial 
    * Take an antibiotic exactly as the doctor tells you. Do not 
skip doses.
Complete the prescribed course of treatment, even if you are 
feeling better.
If treatment stops early, some ba

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