April 25, 2014

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Amherst Steele staph infection is ‘super bug’

AMHERST — A student at Marion L. Steele High School in Amherst has been diagnosed with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, according to Amherst Superintendent Robert Boynton.

MRSA — an antibiotic-resistant form of staph infection — has been garnering nationwide attention after causing the death of a 17-year-old high school football player in Virginia and a 12-year-old in Brooklyn.

The Amherst student is the first reported case of MRSA in Lorain County, but records of staph infections are not required to be kept, Lorain County General Health District health educator Joyce Davis said.

Several cases of staph infections, including in Clearview High School and Oberlin College students, have cropped up recently, but this is the first confirmed case of MRSA in Lorain County.

“This is by no means a sign of epidemic,” Davis said. “Staph is always with us.”

It does demonstrate that we need to take hygiene and sanitation precautions more seriously, she added.

According to Boynton, the Amherst student already is back in school.

Because the disease is spread only through direct contact or the sharing of personal items, such as towels, drinks, even cell phones, Davis does not see the student’s return as a risk for other students. She did stress, however, that students should be aware of the situation and the risks associated with contact and unhygienic practices.

Davis said that although MRSA is resistant to many antibiotics, it can be treated.

“A doctor can take a culture sample from a wound and determine which antibiotics will be effective in treating the infection,” she said.

The confirmed case of MRSA comes right after a bill passed by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. The bill, passed Wednesday, allocates more money to track MRSA and the inappropriate use of antibiotics.

“Drug-resistant infections are a serious threat that the health community needs to address quickly,” Brown said. “It is downright scary that diseases once curable are suddenly deadly again. Recent research suggests more people die of MRSA then AIDS — and these deaths are preventable. We need to invest now in research and coordination efforts to safeguard against future outbreaks.”

Contact Michael Baker at 329-7155 or mbaker@chroniclet.com.