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MRSA case confirmed at Halifax County High School

Letters went home yesterday notifying parents and guardians that a case of MRSA has been confirmed in a student at Halifax County High School, according to Deputy Superintendent Larry Clark.

Clark said the student who has the infection has not returned to school and is taking medication under the care of physician. He said the 11th grader has been confined to her home since Sept. 22.

Letters that have been sent home to parents in past instances of MRSA outbreaks have outlined the steps they can take to prevent the spread of MRSA, including frequent hand washing with soap and water.

Health department officials said MRSA bacteria are common in the environment. They are carried primarily on the skin of healthy people and are the cause of minor skin infections. One out of every 100 people is colonized with it, health officials said. 

Staph bacteria, such as MRSA, can cause skin infections that may look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful or have pus or other drainage, according to the fact sheet released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The more serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections or surgical wound infections.

In the 1990s, a different type of MRSA began showing up outside of hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The Mayo Clinic said in an article on its website that form of staph is known as community-associated or CA-MRSA.

MRSA is a form of staph that is resistant to antibiotics called beta-lactams. These include methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin, according to Millie Lavaway, infection prevention and control practitioner for Halifax Regional Health System.

This strain of staph is responsible for a number of serious skin and soft tissue infections and also for a serious form of pneumonia. Health officials said said this form of MRSA can produce toxins, and if they become invasive they can spread through the bloodstream, making it much harder to treat.

For more information about MRSA, contact the Halifax County Health Department or a medical professional.