MRSA: Staph Infections threaten Schools; Health Department Reacts

By Nicole Pence

June 18, 2010 Updated Oct 18, 2007 at 6:32 PM EDT

An important health warning for our community. According to a recent government report, more Americans in 2005 died from an antibiotic-resistant staph infection than aids. Nicole Pence explains what that means locally.

It's known as the "Super-bug" or MRSA, commonly called "mur-sa". It's a staph infection that doesn't respond to treatment with common antibiotics, like penicillin. The Centers for Disease Control report it's spreading wildly through schools, hospitals, prisons and athletic facilities.

The numbers startle health officials here locally. Some these pictures are disturbing.

Many times, people assume it's just a spider bite.

Dr. Deborah McMahan/Allen County Health Dept.: "Red, warm and pus there is an infection going on there and most people. 80 percent of people will go to the doctor and say I was bitten by a spider, even though they never actually saw the spider, but it's in fact it's really a skin infection."

A very serious skin infection in this case. In the CDC's report, more than 90- thousand Americans may get the "SuperBug or, MRSA, each year.

Sadly, earlier this week, a high school student in Virginia lost his life. It's a powerful drug resistant strain of staph bacteria.

John Colmers/MD Health Secretary: "You will not hear the health secretary at this point say it's a cause for panic. It is something that we have to be concerned with as health care providers and others of public health officials certainty."

Doctor McMahan says her office has noticed more calls about MRSA in the last year. Previous reports, suggested it was mostly transferred through unsanitary hospital procedures and mainly attacked the elderly. But, that's not the case now.

Dr. Deborah McMahan/Allen County Health Dept: "The healthcare community has to be more alert now that now that there are a lot of cases where it was a simple skin infection but are now in fact are finding out it's MRSA."

Those at high risk are typically young people, athletes, those in close skin to skin contact. A tear in your skin is often the infection path, and the bacteria can live on surfaces for days or weeks. Because regular antibiotics can't fight it, if you have any worries, head to the doctors office immediatly.

The Allen County Health Department has been working with the school safety commission to design these posters. They'll be up in schools sometime this fall to remind teachers, students and coaches what to look for and how to treat and prevent MRSA from speading.

Again, our best bet is to follow the basics, right? Yes, wash your hands often, and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. But, again if your skin is irritated and red for longer than two days, you should see a doctor because if it is MRSA, it needs special attention.

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