Several staph infection cases are reported across the region and parents are concerned about the risk of infection at schools. Tonight, an infectious diseases specialist explains how the superbug MRSA is treated and gives his opinion about school closings.
Doctor Bekoe Opoku-Owusu, or Dr. Bek as he's known at the Hazard ARH, says he's familiar with recognizing MRSA as an infectious diseases specialist.
"They'll say it's like a spider bite. It will be red and inflamed, it will look like a common boil on the surface of the skin," Dr. Bek said.
Dr. Bek says most of the time doctors can clear up MRSA by draining fluid from the infected area and putting patients on antibiotics. That's how one student from Pike County was treated under his arm, but at first it wasn't a total success. After taking 12 days of oral antibiotics, the infection returned. Dr. Bek says that's because over the years the "superbug" strain has become more resistant to different types of antibiotics.
"We've been having to change the antibiotics ever so frequently and then look to drug companies to look for new antibiotics to treat these bugs," Dr. Bek said.
This student is doing fine after his second round of antibiotics. During his treatment, he went to school with his wound covered and wore an extra shirt.
"If they're able to keep the drainage covered, you know the wound covered, there's no reason why they should be excluded from school," Dr. Bek said. "I don't think schools need to close for MRSA infections".
Dr. Bek says regular cleaning and frequent hand washing is the best way to keep MRSA at bay.
School officials in Letcher County say there is one confirmed case of the MRSA staph infection in the Letcher County School system. All classes are cancelled Thursday for students in Letcher County so the schools can be cleaned.
Meanwhile, at least four staph infection cases are confirmed in the Floyd County School District. Officials there say they are keeping schools as clean as possible for students.
For more information on MRSA in schools, log on to: http://www.cdc.gov/features/MRSAinSchools