Milan, South Ripley send home letters
Area schools address staph infection (MRSA) issue

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staph aureus, also known as the Superbug, is an antibiotic resistant strain of Staph infection that has caused quite a stir in many communities recently.

With a 17-year-old senior student’s death in Virginia being reportedly connected to MRSA, school officials have been cautious with the strain knowing its strength. Last week a report of a confirmed case at the Milan schools had some parents worried. Superintendent Andrew Jackson told the media that the student was being treated by a physician, and the school corporation was following the Center for Disease Control guidelines. A letter was sent home on Wednesday, October 24, about the situation that also outlined precautions for parents to take.

Jackson said the CDC does not recommend closing the school, but rather emphasizing the importance of hand washing. Desktops and other school material were disinfected and athletes were asked to take home their uniforms or gear to have it laundered. Staff was busy disinfecting the locker rooms.

While there were no confirmed cases of MRSA at South Ripley schools, a letter was sent home last Friday, October 26 with students. It read in part, “In light of recent news regarding methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infections (MRSA), we would like to seize this opportunity to reassure parents that your child’s health and well-being continues to be our number one priority.” The letter went on to say if a student at South Ripley would be confirmed to have the infection, the school would follow the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and doctor’s orders for the individual student. It further noted that the CDC did not recommend keeping students home from school or closing the school, should there be a case.

“Our goal is to provide a safe and healthy environment for our children,” the letter signed by Superintendent Ted Ahaus, read. It went on to give simple good hygiene guidelines such as keeping skin healthy, avoiding dry, cracked skin; washing hands frequently, covering any skin cuts or abrasions with a clean, dry bandage until healed, avoid sharing personal items such as towels, razors and clothing, avoid contact with other people’s wounds, and to contact the doctor if a skin infection does not improve.

Parents were provided additional information on MRSA, along with websites to check out.
While not minimizing the serious affects MRSA can have, the Indiana State Department of Health issued a press release this week saying, “Hoosiers should not be overly concerned about recent MRSA cases.”

The press release said MRSA is not a new disease and has been present in Indiana for years. It is described as a type of bacteria which has developed resistance to several antibiotics, making it more difficult to treat. Most of the infections are treatable. Only when MRSA enters the blood stream or a major body organ does it become more serious and could be fatal.

With Indianapolis public schools reporting 14 cases and Cincinnati schools also reporting cases of the infection, schools in the Tri State area are taking precautions by sending letters home to parents early on to avoid having something more serious in the future. The main points to prevent infection from spreading are:

• frequent and appropriate hand hygiene
• do not share personal hygiene items
• wounds should be washed promptly and thoroughly with soap and hot water
• routinely clean and sanitize areas where there is frequent direct skin contact
• see your doctor immediately if you notice red, swollen, or painful wounds or skin breaks
• and take antibiotics responsibly if prescribed.
Area school officials are asking parents to team up with them to make sure students get every precaution to prevent the infection from spreading.