Maine CDC Press Release

June 2, 2005

Health Officials Update MRSA Cases

Mike Norton, Director Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH Geoff Beckett, PA-C, MPH
Media & Public Relations Bureau of Health Assistant State Epidemiologist
Dept. of Health & Human Services Dept. of Health & Human Services Dept. of Health & Human Services
221 State Street 286 Water Street 286 Water Street
Augusta, ME 04333 Augusta, ME 04333 Augusta, ME 04333
Tel:  (207) 287-5012 Tel: (207) 287-8016 Tel: (207) 287-2770
TTY: (207) 287-4479 TTY: (207) 287-6706 TTY: (207) 287-6706

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Bureau of Health, Department of Corrections, and Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department today provided an update on recent Methicillin-Resistant Staphyloccus Aureus (MRSA) infections in correctional facilities.

There are six inmates with confirmed MRSA infections in the Cumberland County Jail, and five in the Maine State Prison Warren facility.

“It is important to note that MRSA skin infection outbreaks across the nation are commonly associated with those in close contact with each other such as inmates in correctional facilities and athletes in contact sports,” said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, director of HHS’ Bureau of Health.

“People who have had casual contact with infected people do not need to worry. Even those who have had skin-to-skin contact generally should not be concerned, especially if they themselves do not have open skin and/or they use common hygiene such as washing with soap and not sharing towels,” Dr. Mills said. “It comes down to good hygiene, which is a life-long healthy habit for all of us.”

Geoff Beckett, assistant state epidemiologist, said among 60 reports on non-health care related MRSA last year, 15 were associated with correctional facilities, representing three different outbreaks. “The current two outbreaks do not at this point appear to be related, and there is no evidence of any one person spreading MRSA in either correctional facility,” Beckett said. “As with other MRSA outbreaks across the country, the spread appears to be related to the close contact inmates generally have in any correctional facility.”

In addition to two MRSA health advisories to all correctional facilities, nurse epidemiologists from the Portland Public Health Division and the Bureau of Health are in close contact with the Cumberland County Jail and the Maine Department of Corrections. “Nurse epidemiologists will visit all correctional facilities in Maine over the next three weeks to further advise and answer questions on the detection and control of MRSA,” Dr. Mills said. State health officials also will meet with the Maine Sheriff’s Association and the Association of Maine Jail Administrators.

“Although MRSA most commonly causes localized skin infections such as boils and abscesses that don’t necessarily even require antibiotic treatment, it can rarely spread to other parts of the body and become more serious, especially in those with immune problems. Therefore, we want to work very aggressively with all jails and prisons in Maine to help prevent this bacterial infection,” Beckett said.

For more information on MRSA, visit the HHS Bureau of Health web site at

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services works to enhance the health, safety and independence of all Maine people. Its MaineCare program provides health insurance to more than 260,000 people. Other program initiatives protect public health, advance social and economic independence, and support preventative, protective, and public health services for children, families, Maine’s seniors, and adults, including those with cognitive and physical disabilities.