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Two confirmed cases of MRSA in Ketchikan School District


November 16, 2007
Friday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska - The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District (KGBSD) announced Thursday that two confirmed cases of MRSA in school district have been reported. Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus commonly known as MRSA is a type of "staff" infection that is resistant to many antibiotics and frequently causes skin infections. If left untreated, MRSA can spread to a more serious illness stated the news release.

According to informatiion provided by the Ketchikan School District, healthy people are at a low risk of becoming infected, however, they can carry and spread microorganisms through physical contact.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics including methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin. Staph infections, including MRSA, typically have occured most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities who have weakened immune systems.

MRSA infections that are acquired by persons who have not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis, surgery, catheters) are known as Community-Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) infections. Staph or MRSA infections in the community are usually manifested as skin infections, such as pimples and boils, and occur in otherwise healthy people according to the CDC.

The decision to close a school for any communicable disease should be made by school officials in consultation with local and/or state public health officials according to the Center for Disease Control's website. Quoting the website, "However, in most cases, it is not necessary to close schools because of an MRSA infection in a student. It is important to note that MRSA transmission can be prevented by simple measures such as hand hygiene and covering infections."

Special efforts are being made by the Ketchikan School District to disinfect the schools, classrooms, desks, water fountains, playground equipment, athletic equipment and other surfaces that are frequently touched and used by students and staff. According to a news release, the KGBSD is making every effort to ensure that Ketchikan's schools are clean and classrooms disinfected.

According to the information provided by the district, parents can help the schools reduce the risk of the spreading of this infection by following hand washing and disinfecting practices (click here pdf).

Common signs of a skin infection, such as the following are often seen:

  • Redness
  • Warmth
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

Often a MRSA infection will look like:

  • A spider bite
  • Boil
  • Abscess
  • Turf Burn
  • Wounds that won't heal

MRSA skin infections are generally spread through the following ways:

  • Skin-to-skin contact
  • Direct contact with infected wound drainage
  • Contact with contaminated surfaces or items
  • MRSA is not spread through the air

The distrist request that if you have any questions that you contact your health care provider or physician; the Ketchikan Public Health Center at 225-4350, or Ketchikan General Hospital 228-8300.


On the Web:

Questions and Answers about Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Schools
Center for Disease Control


Sources of News:

Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District

Center for Disease Control


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska