State superintendent talks staph prevention in Burlingame

The state superintendent of schools visited a Burlingame middle school this morning to discuss ways to prevent staph skin infections, amid recent reports both locally and nationwide.

Incidents of antibiotic-resistant staph infections, caused by Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), have been reported in schools and communities throughout the country, according to the state superintendent’s office.

Officials with Contra Costa Health Services have had reports from schools and parents in Oakley, Antioch, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill and San Pablo.

This morning, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell visited Burlingame Intermediate School with area school and health officials.

“We feel it is important to provide information, dispel fears, answer questions, and most importantly, let students, parents, and school personnel know that there are simple precautions they can take to prevent incidents of MRSA,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell discussed preventative measures that schools and parents can take to keep children safe from possible infection, and asked that parents and teachers visit the California Department of Health’s Web site for information.

According to the state Health Department, most skin infections caused by Staphylococcus bacteria are minor, but can potentially become serious if untreated.

Unfortunately, the MRSA strain of the bacteria is resistant to commonly used antibiotics, so the Health Department recommends frequent hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Those with cuts or abrasions, through which MRSA can be transmitted, are particularly recommended to clean and dry the affected areas.

MRSA is often spread in crowded areas, such as locker rooms, dormitories and other crowded living spaces, mostly through skin contact or contact with contaminated items and surfaces, according to the Health Department.

More information is available at the California Department of Health’s Web site, www.cdph.ca.gov.

— Bay City News

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