A student was diagnosed this week with an antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria, forcing the College to close the Watson Fitness Center and the adjacent weight room from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday at about 2:30 p.m.

The Orient learned of the isolated case of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from an all-employee e-mail sent Wednesday from Manager of Environmental Health and Safety Mark Fisher. Fisher sent the same e-mail to all students, but it had apparently not been released to the all-student e-mail list at the time of publication.

Fisher said that the student, after noticing a skin irritation, went to the health center, which identified it as a staph infection.

"Things went exactly as they should have," Fisher told the Orient. "I give the student a lot of credit."

Following the diagnosis, Fisher said the "standard infection control process" took place, which included having an outside vendor clean the student's "personal quarters and any other area where it was possible there could have been contamination." Fisher wrote in the e-mail that the gym space was being cleaned as a "safety precaution."

Fisher would not provide specific information on the student, citing health privacy laws.

This is the third case of MRSA diagnosed at Bowdoin this year. The two other cases occurred in September and were unrelated, isolated cases. Fisher said that it was "complete coincidence" that three cases had occurred in one year, noting that these were the first-known instances of MRSA at Bowdoin.

Fisher said that the risk was less serious than the two cases in the fall because it is "one student in one apartment" instead of students living in closer conditions.

According to the Center for Disease Control's Web site, "Staph bacteria, including MRSA, can cause skin infections that may look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage." It can be spread by "close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions, and poor hygiene," according to the Web site.