Antibiotic resistant staph infection found among fire crewmembers

News is circulating about an antibiotic resistant staph infection that has affected several members of a hot shot crew in the Southwest Geographic Area and is “running rampant” in California. A portion of the Safety Alert is below, but HERE is the complete version.

During the past week, one of our Region 3 Interagency Hotshot crews returned from a fire assignment in Northern California after having confirmed three (3) cases of MRSA (Staph Infection) on their crew over the course of separate assignments. It has now been confirmed that the initial case was contracted at a previous fire assignment but was not confirmed as MRSA at that time, even after initial and follow-up medical attention and the crew returning home from that first assignment. After being hospitalized, the crew member was still not diagnosed with MRSA and the remaining crew was dispatched to another fire assignment in Northern California.

After a MRSA diagnosis was confirmed in the initial crewmember, another crewmember noticed a similar occurrence and taken to a nearby hospital (near the fire incident) where MRSA was also confirmed. The patient was released to duty and provided topical ointment and told to keep it clean. At the time, the doctors in the emergency room at the hospital confirmed that MRSA was “running rampant” in California.

After cleaning and disinfecting all vehicles and equipment, the crew returned to work on the fireline only to have the crewmember experience worse symptoms and taken back to the hospital with a diagnosis of MRSA and later released from the incident and sent home. The crew remained at the incident only to have a third individual with a ‘bee sting’ that developed MRSA. The individual was taken to the hospital where MRSA was confirmed. After much debate, the crew made the proactive decision to ask to be sent home to provide recuperation time for the crew and affected crewmembers.

Thanks to Bequi Livingston (USFS) and FireNet for the information.

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