September 22, 2014

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School district warns of staph infection

A Clearview football player was hospitalized last week with a staph infection, and a general warning has gone out to students in the Keystone school district after five high school football players reported skin infections.

However, none of the cases is the antibiotic-resistant “superbug” infection known as methicillin resistant staphlococcus aureus, or MRSA, which if left untreated can progress to a more serious illness, according to the county health department.

“We had some kids that had impetigo, which is fairly typical, but we have no MRSA that we know of,” Keystone Schools Superintendent Gary Friedt said.

Impetigo is caused by one of two bacteria — group A. streptococcus or staphylococcus aureus — and is spread in places such as health clubs and nursery schools, according to county Health Commissioner Kenneth Pearce. Friedt said his own son, a high school wrestler, had the milder impetigo last year. Pearce, meanwhile, said a toddler in his neighborhood contracted impetigo last year at preschool and it caused small “doughnut-shaped” lesions. At any time, 80 percent of the population has staph-causing bacteria in their nasal passages, according to Pearce.

The more serious MRSA was blamed in the death of Ashton Bonds, a Virginia teen who died Oct. 15 of an infection that had spread to his kidneys, liver, lungs and the muscles around his heart.

MRSA infections commonly take the form of pus-filled pimples and boils; Ashton’s mother told The Roanoke Times that her son had what appeared to be a large pimple on his forehead. On Tuesday, officials in Middletown reported that three cases of staph infection — including two of MRSA at two of the city’s elementary schools — had been reported.

Locally, Pearce said two staph infections were reported at Clearview High School and another one at Oberlin College.

A culture was grown to check the cause of the infection that hospitalized the Clearview football player, according to Julie Foor, a registered nurse at the county health department.

Clearview High School sent letters to parents of students in athletics alerting them of what to look for and precautions to take, such as disinfection of athletic equipment, Superintendent Rick Buckosh said.

Staph infections are not required to be reported in Ohio unless they are culture-confirmed and part of an epidemic or unusual incidence, according to Pearce. He said the five cases at Keystone High “could be” an unusual incidence.

The county health department has offered to assist the Keystone Schools in education efforts, but the department does not do medical examinations, Foor said.

Pearce recommended that people seek medical attention for any infected wound that could involve a staph infection. Food-borne bacteria also causes staph, which could result in intestinal problems, Pearce said.

As of Tuesday, no other districts in Lorain County had reported any incidents of staph infections.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.