Superbug surfaces in Dougherty, Lee schools - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Superbug surfaces in Dougherty, Lee schools

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October 26, 2007

Lee County --  There are two confirmed cases of MRSA at two different Dougherty County Schools, and a reported case at Lee County Middle School. Dougherty County School System administrators refuse to say which schools.

Both school districts sent letters home to parents today informing them of the danger of the contagious, drug-resistant staph infection.    

Lee County Middle School coaches scrub down equipment after each weight training class. It's just one precaution after a 14-year-old girl taking the case was diagnosed with Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, better known as the Superbug.

"We make sure daily they are personally sanitizing that weight training equipment, the benches, the bars," said Lee County Middle School Principal Gail Melvin.

They've also made sure students understand what a staph infection is and that it's preventable by washing hands and keeping clean.

"One thing we've advised or suggested to them is to bring their own towels to lay on the benches or put on the bars and to not use one another towels to use their own towels to do that," Melvin said.

In Dougherty County, two more cases, a girl, not involved in sports, who is said to have sought treatment so quickly they don't believe anyone else could have been infected and another student. The school system is expected to send home this letter with students warning parents.

Public Health is concerned some doctors may be too quick to diagnose MRSA.

"We are being told that there are people being told that they have MRSA and are being placed on antibiotics without having a culture and really you can not make that diagnosis without a culture," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, Southwest Georgia Public Health District Director.

They say parents should be cautious about any skin infection where the skin breaks and won't heal and when you go to the doctor insist on a culture. With more cases under investigation, the health department hopes doctors and hospitals will be vigilant.

"In order for us to do the type of surveillance work that we need and the investigation to make sure that it's not a cluster and to make sure we're not seeing something that's more widespread in the community we need to know that it's a confirmed case," said Grant.

To prevent a situation like Virginia where 21 schools were closed after a student died as a result of the Superbug.

As many as 30 percent of Americans are walking around with some form of staph in their system, but most do not develop a dangerous infection.

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