MRSA concerns outside of health care facilities

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Knoxville (WVLT) The new health risk posed by antibiotic resistant staph, otherwise known as MRSA, has spread beyond hospitals into schools and locker rooms.

And now, it's appearing in the workplace.

On office telephones, computer keyboards and even the bathroom sink.

Some area companies are already working to prevent the spread of MRSA, only after learning about the infection the hard way.

CDC officials say MRSA hot spots include cell phones, computer keyboards and faucets.

And the very best thing companies can do to prevent the spread of the disease is to enforce hand-washing.

At David's Bumpers and Crash Parts, workers handle sharp auto parts and heavy boxes that can easily cause cuts and scrapes.

But at this shop, a grown man that gets a hang nail is treated with kid gloves.

Brenda Underwood says, "if there's one cut when they're unloading the trucks or leading the trucks up, if any of the guys cut their hands or anything, right then David has them go and wash their hands."

When money changes hands, hand sanitizer seals the deal.

"Money especially. If we've touched money, maybe we've cut our hand on a box helping a customer, we immediately go and sanitize our hands right then."

Think the Underwoods are being overly cautious?

They became concerned when David got a scrape on his arm.

"That's what they used to say, until David about lost his arm."

David's cut was so minor, to this day he says he can't remember how he did it.

But Knox County public health officer Dr. Martha Buchanan says that's how most MRSA infections are born.

"And so they get it on the desk or the cell phone or the pen and you pick it up and you have an open wound on your hand, and so that open wound is an opportunity for bacteria to get in there and set up an infection."

Most cases outside of hospitals are confined to schools, but the number of cases in the workplace is also on the rise.

In fact, CDC officials now estimate about 14 percent of MRSA infections occur in people with no obvious exposure to health care facilities.

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