Monday, October 29, 2007

Communicable Diseases and such

One of the downsides of large institutions like schools is that they can become a breeding ground for disease and other unpleasantness. For example, some years ago when my oldest daughter was 4 years old, she brought home lice from preschool. It quickly spread to me and her sister. It was the worst week of my life.

This caught my eye.

Staph infections catch parents off guard

Milton mother Eileen Prybol didn't know a football player on her son's high school team had contracted a contagious and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection until she read about it last week in the newspaper.

In fact, Milton High School administrators didn't alert parents about the illness until after the article appeared — a full week after officials first learned of the spreadable, sometimes-deadly disease.

"I mean, we even got a letter [earlier this year] when mono was going through the school," Prybol said of the delay in notification. "It's just common sense. If the parents don't know that it's out there, then how can we watch for it?"

When it comes to alerting parents about contagious illnesses, school administrators don't always follow the same procedures. A parent may hear about incidents of mononucleosis at a child's school, but not more serious diseases, such as the estimated dozen drug-resistant staph infections recently reported in Atlanta and Cobb, Fayette, Fulton and Henry counties.

Part of the reason for the discrepancy is because infected students may not have been ill at school and were treated before they returned. But another reason appears to be a lack of uniform guidance from county or regional health departments, which school administrators rely on when they have students with infectious diseases.

23 Kentucky Schools Shut Down To Disinfect

Pikeville, KY (AHN) - The eastern Kentucky school district will shut down all its 23 schools Monday to disinfect facilities.

The move, affecting more than 10 ,000 students, comes after one Pike County student in September was found infected with MRSA or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Without antibiotic treatment, the bacterial strain can be deadly.

Pike County schools superintendent Roger Wagner said, "We're not closing schools because there's been a large number of breakouts, but as a preventive measure."

Pike County schools were on top of the problem while Atlanta schools took little action. Some have criticized that the Pike county schools over reacted.

I'm not so sure.

Resistant bug alarms health workers

The state epidemiologist wants to require the public to report cases of the dangerous staph “superbug.”

A new study on Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, shows that deaths tied to the infection might exceed those caused by AIDS.

Although the most invasive type is hospital-acquired MRSA, local physicians are seeing an increase in the community-acquired germ from public places such as locker rooms and school gymnasiums.

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Chris said...

My wife had a chance to visit with someone who works at the CDC here in Atlanta. She is on the team assigned to the MRSI and had some interesting things to say. The key takeaway was (and I paraphrase) - "this could be a greater danger than AIDS due to how easily communicable it is. We should NOT underestimate the danger of this infection."

Chris said...

oops. I meant MRSA, not MRSI. Sorry about that!

Phil said...

MRSA is in the news of my town this week. Two cases at a local school and everyone's panicky. There's a townhall meeting tomorrow night, where they expect several thousand people. I see this as a good time to remind kids to WASH THEIR HANDS OFTEN.

Janine Cate said...

>I see this as a good time to remind kids to WASH THEIR HANDS OFTEN.

Good point. Simple things can make a big difference. Still, I find the whole thing very disturbing.

Janine Cate said...


I just hate it when I make a mistake in a comment on someone else's blog. At least when I make a mistake on my own blog I can delete it and repost. Though, I never actually noticed your mistake (MRSA or MRSI, whatever). It looked very official and I just assumed it was something new.

; )

mrs dani said...

another reason they do not warn parents about the illnesses is the same as why they do not report assults to the police. they do not want it to hit the papers. schools will do almost anything to keep bad publicity from being reported. they seem to think it makes THEM look bad and they have to do anything they can to keep the school looking like a good place to send your kids.