MARIETTA - A Phillips Elementary School student was recently diagnosed with a MRSA infection and was out of school until it healed.
MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, is a type of staph bacteria resistant to certain antibiotics. According to the Ohio Department of Health, staph is a common bacteria that lives in or on humans and usually does not cause infection. But sometimes an infection can develop, often confined to the skin, but it can move deeper into the body, leading to "potentially life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs," according to www.mayoclinic.com.
An infection can be spread "by having direct contact with another person's infection, sharing personal items such as towels or razors that have touched infected skin and touching surfaces or items such as bandages that have been contaminated by MRSA," Jennifer Offenberger, director of marketing and public relations for the Memorial Health System, said in an email.
Phillips Principal Joe Finley said the student left school when symptoms of a MRSA infection were discovered. The classroom and other surfaces the student might have come into contact with were cleaned and sanitized multiple times, he said.
"We make sure that the room is completely sanitized on a regular basis," Finley said.
Finley declined to identify the student, citing privacy rules, but said the child did not have contact with areas where students eat or food was prepared.
Parents of other students in class with the youth that had the infection were notified of the situation, the principal said. In its advice for school officials dealing with MRSA, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is usually not necessary to inform the entire school community about a single MRSA infection. The decision should be made by school and medical officials, it says.
"I just thought it was the ethical and right thing to do," Finley said.
The CDC and Ohio Department of Health say students diagnosed with MRSA infections can go to school if the infected site is adequately covered and contained. However, Finley said the affected student did not return to school until after the site of the infection was clear.
The school has "no other situations of MRSA at all," Finley said. "It's completely under control."
The CDC website, www.cdc.gov, says most MRSA infections appear on the skin as "pustules or boils which often are red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage." They may initially resemble spider bites or appear as red, swollen, painful bumps. They most commonly occur at sites of visible skin trauma, like cuts and abrasions, and areas of the body covered by hair.