MRSA infection causes closure of Arkansas school - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Janice Broach

MRSA infection causes closure of Arkansas school

The Palestine-Wheatley School system in Palestine, Arkansas will be closed for cleaning Tuesday after a student there tested positive for MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a particulary difficult to treat staph infection.

Officials at LeBonheur Children's Hospital confirmed to Action News 5 that a child suffering from the infection was admitted.

The child, who hospital officials did not identify, was listed in fair condition.  Hospital officials stressed that parent should exercise caution, but should not be alarmed by the infection.

In a press release, officials a LeBonheur offered tips to prevent an MSRA infection, including:

  • Frequent hand washing for 15 to 20 seconds with warm water and soap
  • Showering after all athletic activity using soap and clean towels
  • Students should not share personal hygiene or other items
  • Infected wounds should be kept covered
  • Skin cuts, scrapes, and breaks should be kept clean and dry

Click here for more information about the infection from the Mayo Clinic.

Stay with WMCTV.com for updates on this story.


Below is the full press release from LeBonheur:

Community-Associated MRSA Information  from Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

Memphis, Tenn. – A child was recently admitted to Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center with Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). The child is currently in fair condition. The experts at Le Bonheur stress that parents should exercise caution, but should not be alarmed. Patients are frequently seen and treated at Le Bonheur with Community-Acquired MRSA.

What is MRSA?
Staphylococcus aureus (known as “staph”) is a common bacterium that is carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Approximately 30 percent of people carry the staph bacteria, and most never develop any symptoms or illness. Staph is a leading cause of skin and soft tissue infection and when an infection does occur, it is usually mild.

Staph skin infections can be just at the surface of the skin or can go into the soft tissue to form a boil or abscess. Invasive staph infections are different from skin and soft tissue infections. Invasive staph infections are more serious, but they occur much less often than skin or soft tissue infections.

Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) is a type of Staphylococcus aureus, which is resistant to some of the antibiotics that typically have been used to treat skin and soft tissue infections. CA-MRSA is resistant to methicillin and other penicillin type antibiotics such as amoxicillin and the cephalosporins.

How Staph Infections are Spread
Staph infections are spread by direct physical contact with the bacteria. It is almost always spread person-to-person, but can be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, personal items or equipment. Spread of staph infections has occurred through skin-to-skin contact when playing sports, such as football or wrestling, or from surfaces in gyms and locker rooms.

What does a staph or MRSA infection look like?
Staph bacteria, including MRSA, can cause skin infections that may look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or surgical wound infections.
How Staph Infections are Treated
Staph infections are treatable. The treatment may include drainage of the infection site and/or treatment with antibiotics. There are antibiotics available for all forms of staph infections, including CA-MRSA.

How to Prevent Staph or MRSA Infections
-Students and staff should be encouraged to wash their hands for 15-20 seconds frequently with warm water and soap. School health services staff should educate students and staff on the importance of hand washing. If soap is not available, alcohol-based sanitizers should be used.
-Students should shower after every athletic activity using soap and clean towels.
-Students should not share personal hygiene or other items such as towels, soap, clothing and razors. If schools are responsible for washing towels, athletic uniforms, etc. these items should be washed after every use. To avoid sharing of bar soap, schools should consider placing soap dispensers on walls, particularly in locker rooms, etc.
-Skin cuts, scrapes or breaks should be kept clean and dry to minimize the chance of developing an infection.
-Proper bandages should be used to keep all infected wounds covered. Students should not be allowed to participate in athletics, gym class, etc., if an infected wound cannot be covered.
-Schools should have and follow protocols for routine cleaning that includes sanitizers and a regular cleaning schedule. Particular attention should be given to damp or wet areas and those areas that may be contaminated by body fluids. Particular attention should be given to locker rooms, showers and the school health services office. It is recommended that a disinfectant that is EPA registered as effective against MRSA be used to clean surfaces.
-Perform daily surface cleaning of locker room surfaces (examples: showers, benches, countertops) and scheduled cleaning of weight room equipment and other gym or other athletic equipment that is shared. These surfaces should be washed after each use with a disinfectant, such as bleach or hospital-grade disinfectant.

Messages for School Personnel:
-School closure is not an appropriate response to CA-MRSA infections in students. Response should focus on following the above measures to prevent and control spread of staph to other students.
-If a student is determined to have a skin or soft tissue infection, school health services staff or other designated personnel should clean and cover the wound site and notify the child's parents.
-Parents should be advised to seek further evaluation and/or treatment by their child's doctor.
-Keep a first aid kit with ample dressings available at athletic events.
-Staff should report skin and soft tissue infections to the school nurse and to coaches/athletic trainers/physical education teachers so that hygiene practices can be reviewed and corrected if deficient.
-School nurses should consider a CA-MRSA diagnosis in all students who present with signs of skin or soft tissue infection.
-School health services staff and other school personnel who might have contact with students suspected of CA-MRSA infection should use contact precautions.

Messages for Students/Parents
-Good hygiene is the best prevention! Children and youth should be encouraged to wash their hands frequently with warm water and soap. Parents should educate children about the importance of hand washing, particularly after nose-wiping. If soap is not available, alcohol-based sanitizers can be used.
-Skin cuts, scrapes or breaks should be kept clean and dry to minimize the chance of developing an infection.
-Proper bandages should be used and changed daily or more frequently, if necessary to keep all infected wounds clean and covered.
-If your child has a skin infection that is not getting better, contact his or her doctor.
-If your child is taking antibiotics for an infection, make sure they complete the full number of doses as prescribed. Antibiotics should not be shared or saved for future use.
-Take your child to see a medical provider if the skin or soft tissue begins to appear infected- red, hot, swollen, tender or draining pus.
-Students should report skin and soft tissue infections to the school nurse and to coaches/athletic trainers/physical education teachers.


Information compiled from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Founded in 1952, Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center is the Mid-South’s first and only comprehensive pediatric medical facility. Every year Le Bonheur treats almost 140,000 children from 47 states and many countries. Le Bonheur is home to one of the nation’s 10 busiest pediatric emergency departments and hosts one of the largest pediatric surgical brain tumor programs.

Le Bonheur is currently in the midst of a fundraising campaign to build a new state-of-the art hospital. The $327-million facility is scheduled to open in 2010 and will double the space for patient care, research and teaching. For more information, please call (901) 287-6030 or visit www.lebonheur.org.


Click here to send an email to Janice Broach.


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