Dear Parent or Guardian:
I am writing to you today to inform you of a health related issue that has come to our attention. One of our elementary students was diagnosed with Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcal Aureus (MRSA). Fortunately this was called to our attention at an early stage and it allowed us to have the student treated by a physician.
Our District continues to take proactive measures to ensure the safety of all our students and staff. Prior to this situation all nurses were provided with literature to update them on the symptoms associated with MRSA. MRSA is a type of bacteria that is commonly spread through close direct skin to skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts and abrasions, and poor hygiene. Here are some published facts regarding MRSA:
v MRSA is not a new infection! Current press reporting leads one to believe MRSA is a new phenomenon. In fact, MRSA has been present in our communities for years. Your health professionals have been aware of MRSA for years and have adapted their diagnosis and treatment of skin infections accordingly.
v Some press reports equate MRSA with “flesh eating” bacteria, which has also been reported upon. This is not the case. MRSA is not the same infection.
v MRSA is not exclusively a school problem as news reports seem to indicate. In fact, MRSA is common throughout our local and national communities. Taking this into account, the reaction of the school district in Virginia (closing and cleaning the schools) makes no medical sense. People carry MRSA on their skin – sterilization of the school will interrupt education of our children but will not eliminate the presence of MRSA infections.
v There is effective antibiotic treatment for MRSA, though choices are limited. Most MRSA infections are treated successfully without need for hospitalization. It is true that in some cases, some of these infections can rapidly progress and require hospitalization. The few cases involving death reported in the media is very unusual – this is not the norm for this type of infection.
v People who have MRSA and are being adequately treated do not need to be restricted from work or school!
If a person has signs of a skin infection that seems to be worsening rapidly despite good hygiene and topical antibiotic use, they should seek evaluation by a medical professional. As a preventative measure we should encourage the following:
Ø Frequent and thorough hand washing
Ø Keeping cuts and scrapes covered with bandages
Ø Careful laundering of personal articles with detergent and/or bleach in hot water and hot drying of clothing
Ø Elimination of the sharing of equipment and personal items such as towels
As a District we will continue to take precautionary measures such as being vigilant and keeping our facilities clean. MRSA is wide spread throughout our country and I ask that you also take precautionary measures. Together we can keep our students safe.
Gary J. Cerne
Superintendent of Schools