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MRSA reported in three CMCSS schools

Ward 10 City Councilman Bill Summer, the council’s liaison to the Clarkville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS), tonight confirmed three cases of MRSA in three of Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools: Cumberland Heights Elementary, New Providence and Northeast Middle.

Because of the seriousness of this type of antibiotic-resistant infection, Summers tonight posted a detailed letter on the issue and the school/community response on the CMCSS Parent Information Network [PIN], which circulates that information to the parents of every child in the school system.

MRSA [Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus] is a type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics including methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin.

Although three cases have been reported locally, there have been no deaths here.

“I send this as info for those that may hear things through the grapevine or rumor. There have NOT been any deaths here. The following letter went home to students parents today. I am providing it to you for info. The school system has contacted me to confirm a third case (the following letter from CMCSS mentioned only the two they knew about at the time it was written).” — Councilman Bill Summers

CNN this week reported that a 12-year-old student in Brooklyn, New York, died of a staph infection on October 14. While MRSA infections are typically minor, invasive MRSA infections, because they are caused by drug-resistant staph, can become fatal. MRSA is responsible for more deaths in the United States each year than AIDS.The Center for Disease Control [CDC] reports that 25-30% of the population carry the staph infection, which is one of the most common causes of infection. Staph infections, including MRSA, occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities (such as nursing homes and dialysis centers) who have weakened immune systems.

MRSA infections that occur in otherwise healthy people who have not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis, surgery, catheters) are known as community-associated (CA)-MRSA infections. These infections are usually skin infections, such as abscesses, boils, and other pus-filled lesions.

As schools are operated by the School Board and funded by the county, the city has no direct input or authority with any school operations. I provide this as strictly a information service for you since it is a health event that is occurring in our city and schools…..and across the nation. CMCSS is taking action to limit and rid the schools of the problem.

For years, Americans have looked to antibiotics as a be all/end all cure for just about anything; overuse has been rampant and only in recent years have the warning flags been raised that some infections may develop a resistance to antibiotics.

The following letter was posted on the Clarksville Montgomery County Parent Information Network today (10/25/07) by City Councilman Bill Summers:

Dear Parents and School Staff:

The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide you with information about MRSA staph infections, which have affected several school systems across the country, including some in Tennessee. The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System has received information about two confirmed, cases of MRSA. MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a form of staph infection that does not respond to routine treatment with some commonly used antibiotics. While effective treatments are available, the MRSA-related death of a student last week underscores the importance of raising awareness and preventing infection.

Please be assured that CMCSS is using appropriate preventive measures to limit the spread of MRSA in our schools. All principals are receiving prevention information and school nurses also are working with school staff on this issue. Our students need to know that we are dealing with this situation proactively and they are safe.

MRSA Facts

  • Staphylococcus aureus (staph) infections have been around for a long time, causing mild to severe illness. MRSA is a kind of staph infection that may be more difficult to treat but is otherwise the same as a staph infection.
  • Mild infections may look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or surgical wound infections.
  • Staph is passed from person to person through direct contact with skin or through contact with contaminated items. The bacteria may live in peoples noses and on their skin and most of the time does not cause any problem.
  • Staph can enter the body through breaks in the skin and sometimes cause infection. The main ways to prevent staph infection are to wash hands and care for wounds properly.

Practical Advice for Teachers

  • Observe children for open wounds. If any are draining or contain pus, refer the child to the school nurse.
  • Encourage hand washing before eating and after toileting.
  • Coaches should ensure that athletes wash their hands, cover their wounds, and not share personal items and towels.

Practical Advice for Parents

  • Clean wounds and cover them with a clean, dry bandage. Wounds that do not heal properly need medical attention. The only way to determine if an infection is caused by MRSA is through laboratory testing ordered by a physician or other health care provider.
  • Teach children to wash their hands regularly, such as before eating and after toileting.
  • Be sure your family members use antibiotics properly. Take all that are prescribed, even if the symptoms stop before the prescription is used up. Do not share prescriptions.
  • Children who participate in sporting events should wash their hands after each practice and game. They should not share equipment, uniforms, towels, or other personal items (e.g., razors). Wash uniforms and towels with hot water and detergent after each use.

General Disinfection Instructions

  • In athletics, mats, benches or other shared athletic equipment that might have skin contact should be disinfected after each game or practice.
  • Contaminated surfaces may be cleaned using an EPA-registered cleaner or bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water).
  • Routine cleaning of other surfaces is all that is recommended. Because the bacteria live on the skin, they may be reintroduced into any environment at any time. Therefore, hand washing and wound care remain the primary means of preventing staph infections.

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