Albany -- There is a public health alert. A deadly strain of staph infection that's resistant to antibiotics has killed a teenager and led to the closings of 21 schools in Virginia.
While staph infections have traditionally been more prevalent at hospitals and health care facilities, they are also a problem in schools, prone to spread in locker rooms through shared personal items like towels and athletic gear. It's information so staggering, it shocks even veteran health care workers. An infection once confined primarily to hospitals has jumped to other crowded places, and is killing more Americans each year than AIDS. "I think that we as individuals have to take some precaution," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, District Health Director.
It's not easy to treat, actually this type of Staph is resistant to most antibiotics, but it can be prevented the same way as many other illnesses.
"Just as this is a strain that's problematic, there are other things too and we just need to be cognizant of that and always wash our hands," said Grant.
And here's another tip: Don't run to the doctor and ask for an antibiotic every time you have a sneeze, and if your doctor prescribes you one, question if it's truly necessary.
Dr. Grant says abuse of antibiotics is actually what led to this strain of staph's development. "I think we are getting a resurgence of many organisms that are resistant because you can get antibiotics a lot easier."
Most staff infections are minor and will look like a pimple or sore, but if that area gets worse, reddens or just won't heal, you should have it checked out by a doctor. A group of people at higher risk for contracting dangerous staph infections are methamphetamine users, because of sores on their skin.