Bacterial colonies
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Department 3 at the downtown San Diego Courthouse (220 Broadway) reopened April 3 after closing the previous day for a second-round of disinfecting. This followed a working sheriff’s deputy’s report she had a contagious “staph” infection known as MRSA on her foot.

MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and can become a potentially dangerous and extremely painful abscess if an open cut or scrape comes into contact with the bacteria.

MRSA is hard to treat and resistant to certain antibiotics, according to the County of San Diego’s Community Epidemiology department. But it’s far from rare anymore.

“Probably 60-percent of all skin infections are from MRSA,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., deputy public health officer for San Diego County. Until the 1990s, the infection was a problem isolated to hospitals and nursing homes but today has become common among people in tight quarters such as jails, military barracks and dormitories, according to the County.

The infection is spread through clothing, linens, hard surfaces and shared items such as gym equipment. It is also contagious by coming into contact with someone who is colonized with it.

McDonald said that about two-percent of the population carry the bacteria. MRSA lives inside of the noses of carriers, who are referred to as “colonized.”

The courtroom was first sanitized on Friday, March 29, immediately after the deputy’s infection was learned of, said Karen Dalton, Superior Court spokeswoman.

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