LONG BEACH - According to Pacific County Health and Human Services Director Kathy Spoor, a female student of Long Beach Elementary (LBE) has been diagnosed with Multiple Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), a type of Staph infection. And while this disease is serious, and in some cases potentially fatal, the local student was diagnosed early and is being treated.

According to Spoor the term "multiple resistant," which relates to treatment by antibiotics, is a bit of a misnomer, as antibiotics can be used to treat the disease, just not the more commonly prescribed ones.

Spoor said LBE school nurse Nancy Provost contacted the Long Beach health department office and talked to nurse Cory McKeown for consultation on what she saw Tuesday. The student had either a rash or bumps somewhere on her body that was later diagnosed as MRSA. The disease is spread once the sores are open and draining - which in this case they were not. The district and health department deemed it was not necessary to close or sanitize the school, since this was the only known case. The district sent an informational letter home to parents after school on Friday.

"We have been assured, based on the specifics of this case, that students in our schools are safe and there is no reason to be concerned about any contagious transmittal," read the letter.

"We were assured that the child did not have any draining wounds while at school and has been out of school since," said Spoor Friday afternoon. "The risk of other student infections is very low."

MRSA came into the public's eye in the last few weeks with news reports of infections and outbreaks across the country, mostly at high schools and colleges, and in some cases resulting in death.

MRSA is spread by direct physical contact with a contagious person and not through the air. However, transmission may also occur through indirect contact by touching shared objects such as towels, clothes, workout areas, computer keyboards or sports equipment contaminated with Staph. The bacteria is usually transmitted through an open part of the skin.

"The challenge with it is it starts off non-descript, looking like a bug bite or pimple and then starts to spread or weep," said Spoor. "If left untreated it can get systemic."

"Staph lives around all of us, we all have it. It's in our environment naturally," said Spoor. "(In this case) this happened to get into an open wound and had a chance to cause the infection."

Spoor said due to the fact that Staph and MRSA are not required to be reported in Washington, the information of this case from the child's physician to the health department is somewhat limited. She did say it can take several days for the treatment to take hold and start to heal the child, which stops the infected areas from draining further. She said once the draining stops and she recovers fully she would be able to return to school.

For more information on MRSA, please see:

www.doh.wa.gov/topics/antibiotics/default.htm

www.tpchd.org/page.php?=12

www.cdc.gov/features/MRSA

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