Preventing MRSA Staph Infection in Knox Restaurants, Gyms

By: Jessa Goddard
By: Jessa Goddard

Knoxville (WVLT) – The number of reported cases of the MRSA Staph Infection is rising across the United States and East Tennessee.

Researchers from the Center for Disease Control have long warned about the life threatening infections which are mostly acquired in hospitals, but MRSA has been steadily creeping out of hospitals and into the community.

It made national headlines last week, when a Virginia High School student died from MRSA.

But what is being done about it now that cases have turned up in schools, restaurants and gyms?

Here in East Tennessee a variety of businesses are on the offensive.

Take Chuck E. Cheese, the place “where a kid can be a kid.”

Experts say that's part of the MRSA problem.

Children are notorious for not washing their hands or not doing it right and that's how staph bacteria can spread.

It's actually an extremely common germ found on most people's skin, but it usually doesn't cause an infection.

Occasionally it can, wrecking havoc on a person’s health and even sometimes turning deadly.

That’s why managers, like Dawn Armstrong at Knoxville’s Chuck E. Cheese, are taking notice to protect your family from a new epidemic.

"We're constantly cleaning,” Armstrong said. “We use Clorox II to clean and sanitize everything and we keep it up everyday."

MRSA is spread by close skin-to-skin contact through openings in the skin, like cuts or abrasions with contaminated items and surfaces.

Crowded living conditions and poor hygiene also can lead to infection.

According to moms, the threat of the infection has even crept into casual conversations over lunch.

"We definitely use the hand sanitizer when we're in places like this, before we eat, when they use the bathroom and when we go home," said parent Jennifer Farmer.
"My main concern is when we leave, we'll need to make sure we wash our hands,” said parent Jennifer Stambaugh. “When we get home, I'll probably change their clothes."

At the Rush fitness complex, keeping one step ahead of MRSA is a constant battle.

"Since we opened back in 2001, we knew it was an issue of cleanliness in the gym and having a clean facility that's safe for our members,” said Jennifer Wurl, General Manager of the Rush. “It's really something that we adapted as our culture, since the day we opened."

Most of MRSA’s spread to the community can be stopped by simple preventive steps.

Many of those steps are followed by the Rush.

"All members are required to have a towel when they enter the facility,” Wurl said. “Then we have sanitizing wipes throughout the facility so that they can wipe down the equipment before and after use."

It takes a community wide effort to keep the community acquired MRSA infection from reaching epidemic proportions.

CDC officials say the best ways to prevent MRSA are to wash your hands, covering cuts and scrapes with a clean bandage, not touch other people's wounds or bandages and not share personal items like towels and razors.

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  • by J. S. Location: Noe on Feb 4, 2008 at 09:24 AM
    MRSA Staph might not have been contracted; but many of the children that attended my grandson's party on 1/31/08 are now very sick. Two days after going to C. Cheese, all 3 of my grandsons are sick. My sister told me about her grandson getting violently sick after going there last year. My neighbor told me a similar story. I did not see on person sanitizing anything while there. There were no dispensers (as seen in hsopitals) and it was 100 degrees. Live and learn...I'll discourage my son from ever using such a facility in the future. Too many people became immediately ill after visiting the facility.
  • by D Location: Knoxville on Dec 19, 2007 at 10:14 AM
    My Dr called to tell me I have MRSA.I didnt know what it was so I looked it up and was terrified!She didnt seem to take it seriously at all!I went to her for a spider bite,I thought!Is there a specialist in Knoxville that treats this desease?
  • by Steve Location: Virginia on Nov 8, 2007 at 06:11 PM
    Sorry Charlie but Clorox II will not kill staph or other pathogens. I once saw a manager @ chucky cheeses tell her crew to keep working after a kid rest thru up regurgitate in the craw tubes, and she would not allow anyone to clean it up. Just keep trucking the pizza’s out, keep the revenue coming in, while she sat in the office and was afraid to come out, she was afraid of contracting AIDS, or some other disease. This was in 2004 in Richmond Va, I became disabled and CEC cancelled my insurance. If you have any question about this contact the VP of the North for CEC, he was promoted guess CEC felt the good old boys in Virginia would---well you can fill in the blank. Check the DPH site many of these places have been sited for Violations, I suffered 4 different infections there, 2 were life tearing, and one was because a nice lady was in active addiction, and did not have her crew clean up. Don't have a ax to grind, just want people to know the truth.
  • by Doc Location: Steve on Oct 27, 2007 at 08:42 AM
    I took a job as a Tech. Manager at Chuckie E. Cheeses, hoping for a nice quite job, what the hell happened? With in the first weeks of this job, I got the flu, momo, and a server staph infection. The workers comp lady came to see me in the hospital and ask me very personal questions, like what I did I do in the military and was I sexual active, and how healthy was my son his age? I did some checking and these restaurants have been sighted for many, many health violations. I do not have ax to grind with the Chuck but when the GM came in and said to a cast member ,16yrs old, how how is your acne, “you need to shave!” I went off! The GM told me that nice guys finish last, and this is a place to take the kids? Go ahead violate the I-9 forms, while the real Americans stand in line at the employment office. Check with the DPH before you go to a CEC location.


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