DETROIT -

Many parents are concerned about reports of students being infected with MRSA at local schools. 

But Local 4 Dr. Frank McGeorge says it's not just schools dealing with MRSA. It's the entire community.

Related: Livonia high school student has MRSA

MRSA in school often makes the news when notices are sent out or schools are closed to be sanitized, but Dr. Frank McGeorge says he frequently see cases of MRSA in the emergency room, and it's much more common than many people might be aware of. 

At one time, MRSA was only found in hospitals, but over the years, it's made its way into the community. 

Studies show the MRSA bacteria  lives and grows on at least 2 percent of all people, particularly in the nose.  That means it is easily transmitted by people who don't even know they're carrying it.  Dr. McGeorge says that means everyone should consider themselves a potential carrier.

Avoiding serious infection is generally a matter of hygiene.  Frequent handwashing and covering cuts can dramatically reduce the risk.

MRSA infections can be severe and can cause large, red, painful boils.  Dr. McGeorge says in the ER, almost half of the time he treats an abscess, it's due to MRSA.  The risk of spreading infection to other people is no more than with any other bacteria, and most often MRSAsimply infects an existing cut, scrape or break in the skin -- which is why keeping uninfected cuts clean is so critical.

It is especially important to see a doctor anytime you have a skin infection that is getting worse over  24 hours, especially if it is accompanied by a fever.  The larger infections often need to be lanced and treated with antibiotics that are effective against MRSA.