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Two suspected MRSA cases reported at Winfield High

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Two students at Winfield High School are suspected to have contracted the MRSA staph infection, and the school has ramped up its environmental cleaning and education efforts to prevent any spread of the infection.

It hasn't been confirmed that the two students' infection is MRSA. Still, Winfield High Principal Bruce McGrew said, the school is making sure students and staff members know what to do to prevent infection. The school has been disinfected by standards outlined by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, he said.

"There are county nurses working with us to make sure the appropriate steps are taken," McGrew said. "Our custodians are aware of what they need to do as far as additional cleaning with the proper solutions to kill the MRSA; we will, of course, have to continue that."

McGrew said it is impossible to say whether the students contracted the suspected infection in the school, but that parents should not be concerned about sending their children to school.

"It's not an outbreak gone crazy -- it's just a couple of kids, and we're making sure it doesn't spread any further," he said.

Janet Briscoe, director of epidemiology at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said students who notice skin lesions should report it to the school. Personal hygiene, including showering after sporting activities, is important to stop the spread of MRSA, she said.

According to Briscoe, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a common form of staph infection found commonly in public facilities that can live on the skin and colonize in the nasal passages; more serious infections can occur when the infection finds a break in the skin and enter the bloodstream.

"Cases have not been confirmed by laboratory cultures. The school has been very proactive -- the school nurse actually contacted us to say it was suspected," Briscoe said. "I think what alarms people is that they don't understand what MRSA is and how common it is in the community."

MRSA is resistant to certain antibiotics -- so unlike a common staph infection, which will sometimes heal on its own, MRSA must be treated by a physician, Briscoe said.

"MRSA was one of the first infections to be recognized as antibiotic resistant; there are much more resistant super bugs out there," she said. "We do take it very seriously, however, and we have worked with the school. We want to assure parents that any time there is a suspected outbreak or something going on that we are in the community and working to make sure preventative measures are being taken."

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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