Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Nancy Rea


The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus has been an important human ailment for centuries, and with the overuse of antibiotics, methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has emerged as a deadly, costly pathogen worldwide. Healthy carriers can become sick or can spread MRSA without symptoms. The amount of asymptomatic colonization among healthy college students and risk factors for colonization by MRSA are not well understood. According to the epidemiologic triangle model, the host (students who take antibiotics or have a history of skin infections), the infectious agent (MRSA) and the environment (direct contact with people, animals, or objects that may harbor MRSA) all play an important role in this disease. This study explored MRSA colonization rates among healthy students at a community college and explored the possibility that students exposed to sources of MRSA might have a higher colonization rate. Using a cross-sectional quantitative design with stratified sampling, risk factors to include student's discipline, gender, race, work, and leisure exposure were surveyed. In tandem, Mannitol Salt Agar and MRSA Select Agar were inoculated from nasal swabs to identify students colonized by MRSA. The data were analyzed using contingency tables and Chi Squares. Significant risk factors identified included students who had a major that involved touching shared equipment and/or those who were in majors such as nursing, students who had close contact with animals, and students who had a skin infection. The implication for positive social change include improved awareness of MRSA colonization and risk factors which can lead to better prevention strategies and increased awareness among the student population.