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Student at Primary School has ‘superbug’

School officials reported a case of the “superbug” MRSA that was diagnosed at South Whidbey Primary School late Monday afternoon.

“We immediately put together a team to deal with the situation,” District Superintendent Fred McCarthy said. “The classroom, bathrooms and common areas were disinfected with a strong product called Hepastat.”

McCarthy said the child, 7, was treated and can return to school. The parents are keeping the student away as a precaution, however.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus bacteria, is spread by having close contact with an infected person or by touching objects such as towels, sheets, clothes, workout areas or sports equipment that have been contaminated with the staph bacteria MRSA.

The bacteria normally lives on the skin and in the nose of healthy people without causing disease, but when there is an injury to the skin like a scrape or cut, the bacteria can enter the break in the skin and cause an infection.

On Oct. 31, a reported case of MRSA forced Port Townsend High School to shut down completely.

That day, John Jones, 46, died of the bacteria at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

“We are not closing the school but are working closely with the Island County Health Department and the Center for Disease Control to monitor and control the situation,” McCarthy said. “We are operating school Tuesday as usual with heightened health precautions.”

He added that prevention of MRSA is best done through hand washing, personal hygiene, wound care and early recognition and treatment.

Cases of this type of infection have been reported in the past and treated with standard precautions.

According to the CDC, the environment has not played a significant role in the transmission of MRSA.

Parents were invited to a special meeting Tuesday night with principal Jamie Boyd to discuss the problem.

“Education and good hygiene are vital components to prevent any contagious disease from spreading,” McCarthy said. “We’re encouraging staff and students to wash their hands often and carefully.”

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