Schools take Staph safeguards - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Schools take Staph safeguards

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October 25, 2007


Leesburg -- Three middle school students in Henry County have been diagnosed with antibiotic resistant staph infections.  Known as MRSA, the resistant staph infection has been blamed for the death of a high school student in Virginia.

Now South Georgia High Schools are taking steps to protect their students against this health risk.  Lee County High School is sending out letters to parents of all students, to let them know how the school is protecting the kids from this possibly deadly infection. 

After a couple of cases of staph slowed two players last year, Lee County High Football Coach David Johnson said the Trojans have practiced a regular program for sanitizing their locker rooms and eqiupment, including a germ killing spray twice a week.

"We saturate everything from shoulder pads and all the equipment, all the way down to the lockers and the carpet," Johnson said.

The sanitation continues in the weight room, with the bars and weights wiped down for sweat.  The Trojan players know all clothes and towels must be washed daily.

Lee County Linebacker Matt Aldrich said, "Everyday after practice we turn our equipment in to coach, and they wash them pretty much everyday.  And the weight room, they clean it everyday."

But since the news of the spread of an especially antibiotic resistant strain of the bacterial infection call MRSA  has been found in some schools across the country, Lee County High sent home letters to all the student's parents spelling out the steps they are taking to fight staph. 

"To put people's mind's at ease, but also let them know that we are trying to take care of things and be as proactive as we can about it," said Principal Kevin Dowling.

Staph is common for high school athletes, especially in football and wrestling, where skin abrasions and close contact can lead to infection.  But it can spread through contact to any student.  That's why Lee County athletes are required to take all practice clothes home at night for washing, and shower right after practice.

"The best way not to have one is to take preventative steps, and that is what the letter is for," Dowling said.

So athletes don't have to worry about infection. "Makes practice go much easier, and we can focus on our games on Friday," Aldrich said.

But this lesson could become a matter of life or death, because some forms of staph can be fatal. 

All Dougherty County public High School football teams had their football equipment treated before the season in a solution that kills disease and infection, and are also cleaning their uniforms on a regular basis to prevent infections.

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