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TASD releases information on awareness and prevention of MRSA skin infection

In the past several days the Tyrone Area School District has had several inquiries about a school health issue. In response to those questions, TASD wanted to provide the community factual information on this recent health issue concerning the school district.
TASD Superintendent Dr. William Miller sent out a letter regarding this issue to all parents and guardians.
Recently in the Tyrone district, three cases of MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphyloccous Aureus) have been confirmed. All three students are receiving appropriate medical treatment. Two of the three students have been cleared by their physicians and are in school.
MRSA is a skin infection spread through direct physical contact with an infected person. However, it is a type of staph infection that is resistant to common treatments. In rare cases, it can progress to serious blood or bone infections. For more information on MRSA, the TASD recommends looking at the MRSA Web site at www.cdc.gov/Features/MRSAinSchools/.
MRSA has been around since 1963. It usually is confined to a boil that should be lanced by a doctor and then usually goes away on its own. For years, MRSA was confined to hospitals. But it began appearing in the general population during the late 1990s and is being seen more outside hospitals and nursing homes. Old-fashioned hygiene practices are the best prevention. It starts with frequent, thorough hand-washing and includes treating and protecting all cuts and scrapes. Athletes should sanitize equipment and should not share towels, clothing or personal gear.
TASD has been in consultation with medical officials, including the school physician and school nurses, as well as reviewing the most recent research on MRSA. The school district has moved quickly and responsibly to properly address the MRSA issues in a school setting.
For example, the school district has scheduled additional sanitation procedures, especially for classroom and locker room areas. They are also in the process of installing hand sanitizer dispensers in all elementary, middle school and high school classrooms and cafeterias throughout the district, as well as distributing hand sanitizer to all classrooms.
The MRSA infection is not likely to be transmitted by contact with surfaces of furniture, walls, etc. However, TASD is providing hand sanitation because the district wants its students to practice good hygiene whenever possible.
MRSA infections can occur almost anywhere for a very simple reason – most people already carry the staphylococcus bacteria in their body. Therefore, it is important for people to follow basic hygienic practices.
TASD wants to emphasize to families that the “best practice” of hand washing is still the best deterrent to slow down the spread of many infectious diseases. Hand washing and hand sanitizers do kill the MRSA bacteria.
Finally, the Tyrone Area School District and all experts say “it is safe to send your child to school.” TASD does not have a health situation that would warrant excluding anyone from school.
TASD will continue to emphasize good hygiene routines, and will also keep parents informed of any new developments with this issue. Education and vigilance is the best way to control these types of infections.
Proper prevention and management may include, but are not limited to:
• Keep hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and warm water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer routinely.
• Encourage immediate showering following activity.
• Avoid whirlpools or common tubs with open wounds, scrapes or scratches.
• Avoid sharing towels, razors and daily athletic gear.
• Properly wash athletic gear and towels after each use.
• Maintain clean facilities and equipment.
• Inform or refer to appropriate health care personnel for all active skin lesions and lesions that do not respond to initial therapy.
• Administer or seek proper first aid.
• Encourage health care personnel to seek bacterial cultures to establish a diagnosis.
• Care and cover skin lesions appropriately.