Two More Long Island Schools Report MRSA Cases

<"">MRSA—methilcillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—has struck two more Long Island schools this week.  One student from Centereach High School and a “non-teaching staff” member at East Islip High School were both diagnosed with MRSA.  Both cases were reported on their respective school district Websites, meant to inform parents in the districts; however, neither alert details the exact diagnosis or reporting dates.  It is not mandatory that MRSA diagnoses be reported to officials.

The Middle Country School District, which operates Centereach said, “The student has not been in school this week” and that custodial staff has been “working diligently on a nightly basis to disinfect the building since the recent outbreaks in neighboring districts.”
 East Islip reported, “We understand that this individual is responding well to treatment.”  East Islip officials also wrote: “Our district is taking several important steps to ensure, to the best of our abilities, that our families and staff are protected.  Custodians in the building are cleaning all common areas like locker rooms and bathrooms with … a common anti-bacterial agent.”  Meanwhile, the Suffolk County Department of Health reported 10 MRSA cases this year, bringing the total to 12.

MRSA is a mutated staph that when not treated early, is resistant to all but the one antibiotic of last resort.  Formerly used in the most potent cases, this drug is being used more and more and, as a result, MRSA is developing resistance to this last successful medication.  MRSA, formerly only seen in hospitals and other health care facilities is now mainstreaming and has been seen to cause skin infections in healthy people who have not recently been hospitalized, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.  MRSA often first presents as boils, pimples, or sores that resemble spider bites, and is most often transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, especially in crowded areas like schools.

MRSA can generally be easily treated by a physician in its early stages; however, when left untreated, it can ultimately prove fatal.

According to the CDC—which last month launched the National MRSA Education Initiative to teach parents how to protect children from skin infections caused by MRSA bacteria—MRSA is typically transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact, from infected surfaces, or by sharing towels and other personal items.  Lesions can be among MRSA’s symptoms; initial signs and symptoms include a bump or infected area that may be red, swollen, painful, warm, or may contain pus.  Fever may be another symptom.  Americans make over 12 million annual visits to doctors for skin infections such as those caused by staph; in some areas of the U.S., MRSA accounts for over half of such skin infections.  In 2006, 94,000 Americans developed MRSA and CDC estimates place 2006’s MRSA death toll at 19,000, with 2,000 healthy people contracting community-based MRSA.

MRSA is a fully preventable disease and very treatable in early stages.  With early and proper diagnosis the infection is easily treated with general-purpose antibiotics, the sore is bandaged and kept clean, and the infection is cured.  Without treatment or with incorrect diagnosis and treatment, the infection spreads rapidly and can lead to respiratory failure and surgeries, attacking vital organs like the lungs and heart.  Survivors are not always returned to their pre-MRSA condition, losing limbs, hearing, and full use of damaged organs.

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