NATIONWIDE -- Student recreation centers across the country are taking precautions to help stop the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ) has installed hand sanitizer dispensers throughout campus after a student there was diagnosed with MRSA in September. (The student has fully recovered, university spokesperson Gretchen Johnson says.) Paper towels and cleaners are also available in the student recreation center for students to sanitize equipment before and after use.

“We’ve learned that we have to get out the message out very quickly and very aggressively,” Johnson says. “We did some really strong blast e-mails to everybody.”

A staph infection case was reported at Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ. The college responded by disinfecting the student recreation center and weight room, and towels were discarded.

The University of Colorado recently reported eight cases of community-associated MRSA, which often occurs in facilities such as schools or dormitories. That’s a different strain than health care-associated MRSA, or the so-called “super bug,” which usually occurs in hospitalized patients with weakened immune systems.

Equipment such as racquetball gloves and speed bag boxing gloves was removed at the student recreation center at Colorado in response to the MRSA outbreak, says Herb Kienle, associate director of facilities for recreation services. Like Fairleigh Dickinson, students at Colorado’s recreation center are encouraged to wipe down equipment before and after use.

“All we’re doing is being conservative and disinfect our equipment a little more than usual,” Kienle says.

The best way to protect yourself against MRSA, Johnson says, is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water and bandage open wounds.