More and more outbreaks of the antibiotic-resistant skin infection or "super bug" known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus ("MRSA") are being reported in schools across the nation.
Based on reports from the Associated Press, The New York Times, and other newspapers around the country, outbreaks or suspected outbreaks of MRSA in October 2007 include cases in:
- A high school students in Weston
- A high school student in Newtown
- 9 Martin County high school students
- A Boca Raton elementary school student
- 5 high school students in Waterloo.
- A student at Richmond High School.
- student at Troy Christian Schools
- A football player at Grove City High School near Columbus was hospitalized for six days with what started as a staph infection in his foot.
- 14 cases of MRSA at schools in Montgomery County, with another two dozen other suspected cases.
- More than 24 cases in four Anne Arundel County high schools since mid-September
- 2 cases at Howard County high schools.
- A football player at Troy High School.
- A high school student in South Jersey
- An elementary school student in Mount Ephram.
- At least six football players at East Forsyth High School.
- Five members of a football team in the Lower Merion School District
- 10 Mount Lebanon High School students - nine of them football players.
- Elementary school students in Delaware County
- A student at a charter school in Northeast Philadelphia,
- A middle school student in West Chester.
- A high school soccer player in Boothwyn
- 17 school districts in Allegheny County in Western Pennsylvania have reported MRSA infections in students during 2007.
- Six reported cases in Fairfax County high schools.
- A 17-year old high school student in Bedford County died a week after being hospitalized with MRSA, prompting the temporary closing of all 22 schools in the county.
- At least 11 cases in teenagers or children in southwest Virginia in the last 6 months.
- 4 students infected in Newport News, one - a football player - seriously enough to require hospitalization.
- Seven cases reported in Berkeley, Boone and Logan county schools in the space of a single week.
In many of the reported outbreaks, the schools involved have been closed to allow cleaning and disinfection. According to the CDC, however, it should not be necessary to close schools because MRSA skin infections spread primarily by skin-to-skin contact and contact with surfaces that have come into contact with someone else's infection. If disinfectants are used, says the CDC, surfaces should be cleaned with detergent-based cleaners or EPA-registered disinfectants
Because staph infections are so common, MRSA is not designated as a "reportable" disease. The only requirement is that doctors alert state health officials when they see a cluster of cases.
The use of relatively simple steps can, however, prevent its spread. For prevention tips, click here