Child Care Facility Combats Staph Infection After Student Diagnosed

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Cases of the drug resistant form of staph infection are on the rise. The Journal of the American Medical Association says nearly 94,000 Americans developed the infection in 2005.

Recently, cases have been appearing all over the country, including one in the Twin Cities.

Some children were absent from a local program Wednesday morning after parents learned one Bryan Head Start youngster had contracted a drug resistant staph infection.

Head Start officials say they learned of the infected toddler through medical records that came in through their program.

"After we confirmed that that was the case and we received instructions from our health advisory committee, which we have one we consult with on all issues of any kind of health problem, we sent a letter home to the parents," Mary Kay Smith, the Head Start program director, said.

Officials say the child has been receiving treatment for the MRSA for several years.

Letters were sent Tuesday and Wednesday to parents educating and warning them about the infection and how to protect their kids. Officials say the majority of the parents took the news well, while others chose to to withhold the children from the program until they had time to consult with a family doctor.

Meanwhile, the child with the infection is still in the program, but Head Start officials say the following universal precautions are being taken:

- Using barriers, such as masks or gloves when necessary
- Disinfecting materials and equipment after use
- Common and frequent hand-washing procedures

Program officials say there is no reason for the child with staph to discontinue participating in the program.

"The CDC, health departments, our protocols, and our health advisory committees tell us about a third of the general population can have the staph germ on their skin, the bacteria on their skin, and unless you have a trauma or an event that introduces it to the skin, then it's not to be a concern," Smith said.

"It's spread from skin-to-skin contact, and so anywhere there is an opening in the skin such as a cut, or through the nasal cavity because the skin is so thin there, or on the skin where there are hair follicle, there's an opening and the infection can come a little bit deeper under the skin and cause an infection," Dr. Anna Damian with the Brazos Physicians Group said.

Damian says, "If parents notice an area of skin that seems to be red or hot, a lot of patients think they are having a spider bite, they need to be seen by a physician."