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More MRSA Cases Reported

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Action News has learned of more cases of MRSA in area schools, including five cases in Lower Merion Township.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE TRANSCRIPT FROM OUR LIVE CHAT

MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a staph bacteria that does not respond to penicillin and related antibiotics, though it can be treated with other drugs.

Late Friday, Lower Merion School District reported that five members of the Harriton football team had been diagnosed and treated for MRSA. District officials said several actions were taken, including cleaning of school area and enhanced awareness.

A pupil at Indian Lane Elementary School in Delaware County's Rose Tree-Media School District was diagnosed with the superbug and the school was closed so it can be sanitized.

A girl on the soccer team at Chichester High School in Boothwyn also was diagnosed with the bacteria. She is home recovering from a leg infection.

Chichester High has been sanitized and has reopened. After-school activities were called off Thursday while the work was being done.

In South Jersey, Point Pleasant Boro High School is open after buildings were disinfected because a student has been diagnosed with a drug-resistant bacteria infection.

On the district's Web site, school officials say the student, who is not identified, is receiving treatment for MRSA.

Officials say cleaning crews are sanitizing classrooms, locker rooms and other parts of the school.

The district tells parents that prevention is critical. Parents should remind their children to practice good hygiene by frequently washing hands, covering open wounds and not sharing water bottles, towels and clothing.

Other schools reporting MRSA cases include Mary Bray Elementary in Mount Ephraim, New Jersey; MAST Charter School in Northeast Philadelphia; and Stetson Middle School in West Chester. In each school, a student was treated for the superbug, the school was disinfected and no classes were cancelled.

In western Pennsylvania, 17 school districts in Allegheny County have reported MRSA infections in students this year. Most recently, 10 Mount Lebanon High School students - nine of them football players - were diagnosed with MRSA.

County health officials took samples from the football team's lockers, weight room, training room and field to test for the bacteria, but all the samples came back negative Friday.

Cases have popped up elsewhere in the state, including at a DuBois Area School District elementary school and at Clarion University, among other places.

State health officials don't track MRSA infections, so it's unclear whether the recent rash of cases is unusual. The bacteria, which are present on the skin and in the nose of healthy people, can cause infection when it gets into the body through cuts on the skin.

Outbreaks are common among sports teams, in schools, prisons and military facilities, health officials said. A recent government report suggested that more than 90,000 Americans per year get an invasive form of the disease.

Staph infections, including MRSA, have spread through schools nationwide in recent weeks, according to health and education officials. A high school senior in Virginia died of the disease on Monday, his mother said.

However, officials also urged people to not panic.

"This infection has been around for a number of years and experience has shown us that its spread can be prevented by simple measures like hand washing, practicing good hygiene, and immediately seeking medical attention when you have a skin infection," state Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson said in a statement Friday.

----- On the Net:

JAMA: http://jama.ama-assn.org

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov

CDC Tips for Preventing MRSA: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar-mrsa-ca-public.html#6

CHICHESTER HIGH SCHOOL: http://www.chichesterschools.net/high/index.htm

Some information from The Associated Press.

(Copyright 2007 by Action News and 6abc. All Rights Reserved.)

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