The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, has provided schools and parents with a concise summary of guidelines on how to prevent the spread of drug-resistant staph infections blamed for the deaths of at least four minors in October.
A CDC report this month estimated that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is linked to more U.S. deaths each year than the virus that causes AIDS. About 14 percent of infections are contracted in the community, usually by skin-to-skin contact, the report said. (“Resistant Staph Germ Poses School Health Concerns,” Oct. 24, 2007.)
In the Oct. 19 guidelines, health officials recommend frequent handwashing to prevent the spread of the bacterium. Students should not share such personal materials as towels or razors, and should disinfect open wounds immediately and cover them with clean, dry bandages.
The guidelines emphasize that schools need not be closed for disinfection because of MRSA cases, so long as other recommended precautions are taken.
Last week, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine moved to make MRSA a reportable illness after it was blamed for the Oct. 15 death of a 17-year-old high school senior in that state. New York City health authorities said last week that MRSA likely also killed a 17-year-old Brooklyn student.
Deaths also have been reported in Mississippi and New Hampshire. Infections have been reported in a number of other states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland. The CDC guidelines are available at www.cdc.gov.
A version of this article appeared in the October 31, 2007 edition of Education Week