Grandview Heights H.S. Disinfected for MRSA

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Antibiotic-resistant staph is more often associated with hospitals and nursing, but it’s also in the community…and that includes schools. A Grandview Heights school recently was disinfected after someone there came down with the infection.

Grandview Heights High School custodians meticulously wiped down the school over the weekend to kill any antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria. And parents got letters on Monday notifying them that someone at the school is being treated for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or commonly called MRSA.

Grandview Heights Principal Jesse Truett said medical privacy laws prevent him from saying if the person is a student or staff member.

“That person will not be back in the building until they’re cleared by medical professionals that there’s absolutely no chance of anything being contagious,” he said. Dr. Madhuri Sopirala is Ohio State University Medical Center’s associate medical director of clinical epidemiology.

Sopirala said MRSA is most commonly seen in hospitals, but recently, it has become a problem in the community. And the severity of MRSA cases varies.

“It could range from skin infections. Usually the kind of infections you see at gyms, people who share towels or etcetera, you see skin or soft tissue infections. But in some people it becomes more invasive, it gets into the blood or they get pneumonia,” she said.

In 2008, a Perry County teenager died from MRSA complications after he developed pneumonia.

Sopirala said MRSA is much more invasive than most bacteria. The infections may appear as pimples or boils on the skin and often are red, swollen, painful or draining. Fortunately, though, Sopriala said there are still some drugs that can treat the bacteria.

Principal Truett said he spoke recently with the person who contracted MRSA, and he says they seem to be recovering. “It was discovered very early. They’re being medicated. Things are going well,” Truett said.

There are no hard numbers on how many MRSA cases there are in Ohio each year. Only outbreaks or epidemics are required to be reported to the Ohio Department of Health.

Sopriala estimates, though, that about 10 percent of OSU Medical Center patients come in with MRSA. There were close to 58,000 people admitted to OSU Medical Center in 2008.

As to why the antibiotic-resistant bacteria is showing up more often in the community, Sopriala said there is no apparent answer. But as with many infections, she said the best defense is good hygiene.