Three David Crockett High School football players and two players at South Greene High School have been diagnosed with staph infections, prompting administrators at both schools to initiate special disinfecting procedures and other precautionary measures.
At Crockett, Washington County Assistant Director of Schools Dr. Bill Flanary said two of the three team members diagnosed with MRSA, (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) infections in the past two weeks have returned to school and will be allowed to play as soon as they receive authorization from their doctors.
Flanary said special response procedures adopted by the school system after a similar outbreak of staph at Crockett several years ago have been followed, including the use of a high-temperature steam cleaning machine and a disinfectant fluid in all areas used by the football team. “We’ve done that twice since we became aware,” Flanary said. “We’re satisfied we’ve done all that we need to do to sterilize everything.”
At South Greene, Greene County’s Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk said non-MRSA staph infections have been confirmed in two players by a doctor who examined the team members on Tuesday. Kirk said both players are being treated and no serious illness has occurred among any of the team members.
Parents of South Greene’s football players have been notified that two players have the infection by letters that advise them to watch for symptoms, to take their child to a doctor if they detect symptoms and to notify the school if their child develops the infection.
All surfaces in the South Greene fieldhouse have been washed with bleach and the same sterilization procedure has begun inside the main school building. Kirk said the visiting team locker room in the fieldhouse was checked prior to bleaching and no staph was detected.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, MRSA is a type of staph bacteria resistant to methicillin and other common antibiotics including penicillin. Infections contracted in a community typically occur as skin infections that are less severe than MRSA infections contracted in health care facilities. The infection is typically spread by skin-to-skin contact or by contact with contaminated surfaces in areas used by a large number of people such as athletic facilities, dormitories, military barracks, correctional facilities and day care centers.
The CDC recommends athletes pay attention to symptoms of skin infection including areas of redness, warmth, swelling, pus and pain and to tell a parent, coach, school nurse or other health care provider if the symptoms are present. The CDC advises against picking or popping a sore or otherwise trying to treat the area without the assistance of a doctor. The CDC recommends covering such areas with clean, dry bandages until they can be examined by a health care professional.
“Finding infections early and getting care will reduce the amount of playing time lost and decrease the chance that the infection will become severe.” the CDC says.