Staph-infection worries mostly hype

While news of three cases of antibiotic-resistant staph infections in East Bay high schools may stir fear in the hearts of parents, San Mateo County health officials say the scare is more hype than substance.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — or MRSA — is resistant to traditional drugs used to treat staph infections, such as penicillin, but is treated with other antibiotics, said Dr. Karen Rulucio, assistant health officer for San Mateo County.

San Mateo County sees an MRSA case every few of months, usually in hospital patients, Rulucio said.

In light of recent incidents in Contra Costa County and the death of a Virginia teenager earlier this month, officials are providing local schools with information on disease control, health department spokeswoman Beverly Thames said. Washing hands and covering wounds are the best ways to prevent infections, Thames said. Staph spreads through breaks in the skin.

tbarak@examiner.com

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