VHS dealing with drug-resistant Staph infections, Assumed to be affecting varsity football team starters

By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News

vandegrift logo_cutout_bw homelogoVandegrift High School recently contacted parents to inform them of the presence of community-associated Methicillan-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) on campus. Several student athletes have been affected and are being treated for skin infections.

Parents responded with concern. As a result, the district has provided detailed information to families about MRSA and the steps Leander ISD is taking to clean facilities and prevent the further spread of infection.

Staph infections are a somewhat frequent occurrence from middle school to professional locker rooms, but the infections — caused by the very common staphylococcus bacteria — are highly contagious and require treatment and aggressive prevention to curtail a widespread outbreak.

Varsity Viper football players have have been affected but the school did not release a list of those suspected of having the infection.

The presence of CA-MRSA on the VHS campus is not new or unique, according to Veronica Sopher, LISD spokesperson.

“MRSA is something that schools all over the country have to deal with pretty regularly. It is serious and we do not take it lightly, but there are a lot of precautions that people can take to avoid it from happening and spreading. This is not an isolated incident, and it has happened in the past,” Sopher said.

MRSA itself is typically associated with patients in a healthcare setting who have been subjected to an invasive procedure such as surgery.

CA-MRSA, however, is common to a younger population and is contracted through skin-to-skin contact as well as contact with surfaces exposed to CA-MRSA.

Student athletes are at the highest risk because athletic activity can frequently cause breaks in the skin such as cuts and abrasions, which creates an easy access point for the bacteria. Student risk also increases through shared clothing, equipment and facilities.

“It is something that a lot of your athletic personnel are always going to have a heightened alert for,” Sopher explained. “Anytime there are students in this type of environment, there’s always a risk (of CA-MRSA infection).”

No faculty have been infected as of this report.

VHS and the district are following cleaning protocols established to respond to the presence of CA-MRSA.

“Part of the protocol is to do extensive cleaning and disinfecting, and that’s been completed,” said Sopher.

An unknown number of members of the VHS football team are currently infected and those students are not allowed to play until their infections have completely cleared, typically two to three weeks.

The school is also required to inform parents of the presence of CA-MRSA on campus and sent two emails to all VHS families last week.

For VHS, the goal now is to prevent the further spread of infection, to ensure facilities are properly cleaned and, through parent and student education, to hopefully reduce or prevent future infections.

Scott W. Coleman contributed to this article.

More about MRSA from the Centers for Disease Control:What is it?Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. In the community, most MRSA infections are skin infections. In medical facilities, MRSA causes life-threatening bloodstream infections, pneumonia and surgical site infections.Does the school need to be closed?In general, it is not necessary to close entire schools to “disinfect” them when MRSA infections occur. MRSA skin infections are transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact and by contact with surfaces that have come into contact with someone else’s infection. Covering infections will greatly reduce the risks of surfaces becoming contaminated with MRSA.

To prevent CA-MRSA infection:

  • Practice good personal hygiene,
  • Take care of your skin,
  • Do not share items that come into contact with your skin,
  • Take precautions with common surfaces and equipment.

What to do if you think you have CA-MRSA:

  • Do not try to treat the infection yourself by picking or popping the sore.
  • Cover possible infections with clean, dry bandages until you can be seen by a healthcare provider (e.g., doctor, nurse, athletic trainer).