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Worksite Health

Mersa on public transit

12/06/2007

Question:

I work for a public transit agency in a large city. The agency has confirmed in an in-house safty notice that Mersa has been detected on some busses and that they have developed a method of sanitizing and disinfecting the busses. That is all the information they have shared with the workers. They have not identified to the workers which busses, routes, dates of detection ect. Should this information be turned over to the public health department? And should the public be informed through the media?

Answer:

MRSA is typically spread person to person by close contact. Contamination of the environment, such as the high touch surfaces of a bus, can potentially occur. The biggest risk for transmission, however, comes directly from those persons riding the buses. The public transit agency may have little control over infected persons riding the bus.

Different state health departments have varied regulations regarding the reporting of infectious diseases. MRSA is not uniformly a reportable disease in most states. If MRSA is not a reportable disease in your state then the public transit agency may have no statutory responsibility to report. Making the public aware through the media would be a business and public relations decision for the public transit agency. It appears that they are actively attempting to address the problem by sanitizing and disinfecting the buses. You can protect yourself by carrying a pocket container of alcohol hand rub and using it regularly.

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Response by:

J Mac Crawford, PhD, RN J Mac Crawford, PhD, RN
Clinical Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences
College of Public Health
The Ohio State University

Kurt B Stevenson, MD, MPH Kurt B Stevenson, MD, MPH
Professor of Infectious Diseases
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University