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Going buggy with MRSA

   Any day Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Anthony J. Billittier can get people to wash their hands is a good day at the office for him.

   And when he was met by an overflow crowd of school officials Wednesday eager to hear an update on the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Billittier warmed up the audience.

   "Nothing like a good bug to get people together … just don't breath on each other!" he joked.

   The commissioner tried to put things in perspective:  "The sky is not falling," he told them. "Many people are carriers (of MRSA) and never get sick."

   The best thing to do to ward off infection is to wash your hands frequently, and if soap and water aren't available, then hand sanitizer could be a good alternate, he said. But some of the sanitizers contain alcohol, he said, which can dry out skin, which then could become chapped and cracked, providing an entry for bacteria ...

   "We need to make sure the cure is not worse than the poison," Billittier concluded.

   --- Barbara O'Brien

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