Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fletcher Works to Contain Staph Infection; School Disinfected by Disease Control Guidelines

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fletcher Works to Contain Staph Infection; School Disinfected by Disease Control Guidelines

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

Custodians disinfected door knobs, desks, steering wheels in drivers education cars and other surfaces at Fletcher High School this week after a drug-resistant type of staph infection was confirmed.

The school learned about the case Monday afternoon, met with custodians about disinfecting the facilities that night and sent letters home with students Tuesday, Principal Dane Gilbert said.

He said the person with the skin infection is healing well and planned to return to school this week. Due to patient confidentiality, Gilbert wouldn't identify whether it was a student or a school employee.

The infection represents Fletcher High School's first case of MRSA, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, a strain of staph bacteria that doesn't respond to penicillin or related antibiotics but can be treated with other drugs. MRSA is usually spread by direct skin contact with an infected wound or sharing towels, razors or other personal items with an infected person. Students involved in wrestling, rugby, football and other contact sports are more susceptible to the infection.

While MRSA can be fatal - a Virginia high school student died from it last month - it's very rare, said Barbara O'Reilly, a Jacksonville Beach pediatrician. MRSA is more common, and usually less dangerous, than most people think, she said.

"I probably see three a month," O'Reilly said. "I had one this last week."

Since last fall, two Nease students had MRSA diagnosed, one last year and one in May, which led to extensive cleaning of the school's weight room, locker rooms and showers.

Gilbert said custodians cleaned all of Fletcher's classrooms and its common areas following guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Duval County Health Department. Well before the case developed, school officials met with coaches and teachers about more stringent cleaning procedures and educating students about frequent hand-washing, not sharing personal items and covering sores with a bandage, he said. …

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