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Drug-resistent Staph infection reported at three CK Schools

By ERIN BEIL

Staff writer

After three cases of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) was reported at schools in the Central Kitsap School District, concerns of this common skin organism have been high.

An adult at Klahowya Secondary School, a student from Olympic High School and another student from Clear Creek Elementary School all reported their cases to district administrators last week.

Melanie Reeder, CKSD spokeswoman, said letters were sent to parents and staff of all schools to inform them of the infections.

“Over the weekend, the custodial staff came and disinfected both schools,” Reeder added. “We told the staff first thing Monday morning, and sent home a letter with the schools affected.”

MRSA is resistant to many antibiotics and frequently causes skin infections. Common signs of the skin infection include redness, warmth, swelling and tenderness. Often, a MRSA infection will look like a spider bite, boil, abscess or turf burn. If it is left untreated, it could progress into a more serious illness.

Reeder added that all individuals from CKSD with MRSA have been treated. However, with increased cases being reported around the state and more media coverage, MRSA has been nicknamed the “Superbug” because of it’s unresponsiveness to antibiotics.

“Nobody calls it the superbug but the media,” said Kitsap County Health District Director and Health Officer Scott Lindquist. “Basically, we all have the bacteria living on our skin.”

Lindquist added that Staphylococcus aureus is a very common skin organism that causes infections. He said it’s very important for people to recognize that Staphylococcus aureus can be a harmless colonizer of the human body, and if not treated, could possibly cause serious illness.

“Everyone fears you’ll have this outbreak,” Lindquist said. “Bad infections do happen, but it’s not the rule.”

He added that everyone needs to take the standard precaution when dealing with any cut or open wound. By washing a cut with warm water and soap and putting a bandage on it, Lindquist said it will help reduce the spread of MRSA.

“It’s such a simple display of what we should be doing,” he added.

Lindquist said people don’t need to report cases of MRSA to the health department unless more than two or three students that share common classes, busses and sports equipment have skin infections due to Staphylococcus aureus. If there are more than two or three affected, contact the Kitsap County Health District at (360) 337-5235.

Preventative methods to help keep MRSA away include practicing good hygiene such as keeping hands clean by washing them with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer and showering immediately after participating in exercise. Covering skin abrasions and cuts with clean, dry bandages until it’s healed will help keep the wound clean. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, razors, makeup brushes and combs that come into contact with bare skin. Use a towel or clothing between skin and shared equipment such as weight-training benches. Also, maintain a clean environment by establishing cleaning procedures for frequently touched surfaces.

Lindquist added that rarely does a school need to close due to MRSA and unless directed by a physician, students with MRSA infections should not be excluded from attending school. Exclusion from classes and sports should be reserved for students with wound drainage that cannot be covered and those who cannot maintain good personal hygiene.

“We need to all just slow down on this one,” Lindquist said. “If this is causing this much panic, what’s going to happen when it’s real?”

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s MRSA website at http://cdc.gov/Features/MRSAinSchools/ or the Washington State Department of Health’s MRSA Web site at www.doh.wa.gov/Topics/Antibiotics/MRSA.htm.

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