Eagles act quickly in potential MRSA scare

When it comes down to it, better safe than sorry is always a good idea when it comes to a student's well-being.

Eagle Point High School officials turned that motto into a reality on Monday after speculation over one of its student-athletes potentially being diagnosed with MRSA, which is a staph infection that increasingly has become more prevalent in schools, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

"We just wanted to get on it right away," said Eagle Point Athletic Director Bryan Wood, who is also an assistant principal at the school. "I'd rather err on being overly cautious than waiting and having to react and have it spread."

Wood said the school learned of the unconfirmed MRSA infection around 11 a.m. Monday and immediately shut down physical education classes at the school, all school locker rooms, both gymnasiums and any access to the track practice equipment like jumping pads or anything that may hold a virus.

Wood said the student in question was seeking medical attention but there was no reason to believe everything wouldn't work out fine.

People contract MRSA as a skin infection, which appears in the form of red, painful pustules or boils. In rare cases, the bacteria can cause pneumonia or a blood or bone infection. MRSA infections are caused by a strain of staph bacteria that's become resistant to antibiotics normally used to treat ordinary staph infections.

MRSA, however, is not resistant to every antibiotic and quick-action treatment plans of antibiotics and ointment for the area typically produces quick, positive results.

Skin infections found in schools are more common among students who participate in athletics and have skin-to-skin contact. However, contact with contaminated surfaces also can spread the infection, usually when there is an open abrasion, sore or cut into which the bacteria can seep, according to the CDC.

"When I was principal over at Brookings we'd have to deal with this from time to time because you have a lot of kids in one place doing a lot of things," said Wood. "It's just important and a good reminder that we're making sure we're following all our procedures and protocols to keep everyone safe."

In as much, Wood said the school's maintenance staff would be spending Monday night cleaning and sanitizing the facilities at Eagle Point High.

"It's not going to hurt doing that," said Wood. "I don't think you can have anything too clean."

"It's kind of like cleaning a wrestling mat," he added. "We'll spray a lot of stuff and that kinda kills everything on contact and then we'll follow all our protocols and make sure everything is clean just so we don't run any risk of spreading anything further, if indeed there is an issue."

For prevention, the CDC recommends washing hands regularly, showering immediately after exercise or sports, protecting skin abrasions with clean, dry bandages until the wound has healed, avoiding shared towels, razors and other items that contact skin and covering exercise equipment that touches skin with a clean towel before use.

Eagle Point High also canceled practices for its athletic teams on Monday but Wood said he anticipates the evening's cleaning and disinfection would prevent the school from further having to change its schedules.

"We feel very confident that we'll have the facility ready to go in the morning and have school as usual," he said.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

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