13 Reported MRSA Cases In Local Schools

Monday, November 5th 2007, 2:41 pm
By: News On 6

A deadly infection is spreading through local schools. We now know of 13 confirmed cases of MRSA, the drug-resistant staph infection. Six people tested positive in Tulsa Public Schools, Muskogee has had at least five confirmed cases, Union and Owasso each know of one case of MRSA, and doctors are checking to see if a second Owasso student has the super-bug.

On Monday, Tulsa Public Schools said two students and two teachers were diagnosed with the superbug. School officials say three schools, Jones Elementary, Skelly Elementary and Edison High School are impacted by the drug resistant staph infection.

A student at Jones and one at Skelly have both contracted MRSA, TPS officials said. A teacher at Skelly Elementary and a teacher at Edison Preparatory School have also been diagnosed with the superbug.

Tulsa Public School officials say in addition to the four confirmed cases, they have two unconfirmed cases at Lindbergh Elementary School. TPS says a letter is being sent home with students with information about the staph infection.

To prevent the spread of the infection, Tulsa school officials say they have sanitized class and locker room areas of all the schools involved.

Tulsa Public Schools is not the only district dealing with MRSA. Union, Owasso and Muskogee have reported cases of the infection.

On Friday, Union confirmed that an Intermediate High School student was diagnosed with the superbug. Union schools officials say they have cleaned several classrooms and a locker room area where the student might have had class, and school nurses are also on the lookout for more cases.

In Muskogee, Superintendent Mike Garde says they have had at lest five confirmed cases of MRSA. Three have been reported from different elementary sites, and two cases were reported at the 7th and 8th grade center.

None of the students affected have been allowed to return to school yet, and Superintendent Mike Garde says that doctors are confident they can treat these cases with current anti-biotic treatments.

Garde says the schools affected have been deploying cleaning crews to disinfect all surfaces to prevent any type of reinfection.

In Owasso, school authorities announced a high school student was recently treated for the staph infection. The News On 6’s Chris Wright reports there is also a second student at Owasso with an infection. Administrators say it is not a confirmed case of MRSA, but that student has been sent home. Meanwhile, the district is taking precautions to make sure no more students come down with the super-bug.

The doors to Owasso High School were wiped down Monday afternoon, and the hallways were kept clean. Administrators are focusing their sterilization efforts on high traffic areas, but say the attention paid to cleanliness in nothing new.

"Quite frankly, most of these practices are the norm,” Owasso Principal Sam Herriman said. “We seldom go a day, we don't go a day, without cleaning our tables, our floors, our custodial class works real hard to make sure things are clean."

One change Owasso High School is making is distributing bottles of anti-bacterial cleaning solution, which like textbooks and pencils, the sanitizer will now become a staple of Owasso classrooms. Administrators say these precautions are necessary after a student was recently diagnosed with MRSA, the potentially fatal staph infection.

"I would say we're in a high alert status as far as dealing with this issue," said Dr. Clark Ogelivie, Owasso Superintendent.

Superintendent Clark Ogelvie says the district is also paying extra attention to all the rooms both students had class in, and those classrooms have been thoroughly disinfected. He says parents have no need to worry, and he is confident the superbug will not be back.

"I want to make it clear, our student's safety is our number one priority, and I hope our parents know that our schools are safe, we're taking every step I know of to make them as safe as possible," Ogelivie said.

The student with the confirmed case of MRSA has been treated, received a medical release and has returned to class. Owasso is also making regular announcements on its PA system encouraging students to wash their hands.

About 20% of people have staph bacteria, about 1% of those cases will mutate into the drug-resistant MRSA variety. Like with all germs, the best prevention is basic hygiene.

The ways to prevent MRSA include:

  • Wash hands often

  • Wash towels, uniforms and other laundry in hot water and ordinary detergent, and dry on the hottest cycle

  • Do not share towels, razors, soaps or other personal items

  • Clean and cover all wounds

Staph infections, including MRSA, usually start as small red bumps that resemble pimples, boils or spider bites. The bumps can quickly turn into painful, deep abscesses that need surgical draining.

The bacteria can also burrow deep into the body, causing potentially life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs.

Here are some warning signs to look for to determine if a wound needs medical attention:

  • Longer than normal healing time

  • Any increase in size

  • Unexplained or unusual pain or sensitivity

  • A heat sensation

  • Abnormal swelling or redness

  • Red streaks around the wound

  • Abnormal coloration

To learn more about Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, including prevention, click here.

Watch the video: School Taking Measures To Prevent MRSA

Related Stories:

10/4/2007 Doctors Warn About Dangerous Staph Infection

10/17/2007 Concerns About Drug-Resistant Staph Bacteria

11/02/2007 Student Dealing With Superbug

11/03/2007 A Second School District Dealing With MRSA

11/04/2007 More Diagnosed With MRSA