Claremore Daily Progress

August 29, 2011

Verdigris case reminds county that staph common in schools

Salesha Wilken
Staff Writer

VERDIGRIS — Verdigris Public Schools is working to protect students and educate parents about Staphylococcus Aureus, a common cause of staph infections, after a middle school student contracted the disease last week.

The skin infection can easily be treated despite its resistance to some antibiotics. 

School officials followed Centers for Disease Control recommendations by cleaning classroom and facilities over the weekend. Parents were notified as a precautionary measure and information was posted on the school website.

Each classroom has hand sanitizer to kill germs like MRSA.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure students stay healthy. This germ is common and is not a cause for alarm,” Middle School Principal Denton Holland said. “It is important for students to continue to practice good hygiene habits.”

Staphylococcus Aureus is a common type of bacteria and about one in four healthy people carry it on their skin or in nasal passages without causing any infection, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

In fact, MRSA is not on the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s list of reportable diseases.

“It would be a reportable disease if it was a serious concern. It is fairly common and the important thing is for parents to remind children to wash their hands,” said Rogers County Administrative Director, Mary Beth Murray.

MRSA infections are spread by contact with drainage from a skin wound, contact with the bacteria, and direct or indirect contact with the person or shared equipment, personal items, or objects.

In schools, MRSA is commonly found among athletes and spread through equipment or poor hygiene habits of individuals, according to area athletic trainers.

The infection can be spread by reusing towels or not washing athletic gear like kneepads that have direct contact with skin. Students may have scratches or scuffed knees and the open wounds can come into contact with bacteria on athletic gear.

The skin infection looks like spider bites, pimples, boils or red, swollen and painful areas on the skin. The sore may have drainage, pus or other fluids draining from the site, according to OSDH health sheets.

Parents should be aware of wounds that are slow to heal and look for MRSA symptoms.

Common symptoms include chills, chest pain, cough, fatigue, fever, general ill feeling, headache, muscles aches, rash or shortness of breath.

Suspected skin infections should be treated immediately to prevent additional complications or spread of disease according to OSDH.

MRSA can be serious in some cases where the infection goes untreated or is associated with pneumonia or blood infections. In those rare instances it is potentially fatal and therefore something to be taken seriously, according to OSDH.

Serious complications are more commonly found in individuals with a weakened immune system.

Additional information about MRSA can be found at www.ads.health.ok.gov and parents are encouraged to remind their children to wash their hands regularly.