Student diagnosed with MRSA

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 19, 2007

PENDLETON – There is a confirmed case of MRSA at an elementary school here, according to Northampton County Schools Officials.

A student at Willis Hare Elementary has been diagnosed with the “super bug,” that has been dominating the media and causing fear for parents of school aged children.

“This is an isolated case and was not contracted from the school setting,” officials stated in a press release sent out on Friday. “The school system does not anticipate closing any schools at this time and all staff members are following the recommendations of the CDC or Center for Disease Control on prevention.”

On Thursday, letters were sent home to the parents of the students at Willis Hare. Phone calls also went out Thursday night to all parents and staff.

Susie Johnson, Director of Community/School Relations and Student Services, said the student with the infection is voluntarily being kept at home by the parent.

“We’re following all the guidelines set by the CDC,” she said.

Johnson added extra disinfectants have been sent to the school. Custodian and education staff has been briefed as to what precautions to take.

Northampton County Health Director Sue Gay has been alerted of the case.

According to Johnson, Gay was attending a conference on MRSA when she was contacted about the Willis Hare student.

Though school officials have reassured parents the case is isolated, one parent is upset the school was not shut down.

Elizabeth Futrell contacted the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on Friday and said she will not send her child back to the school until it has been properly disinfected.

Futrell said she received both the phone call and the letter about the confirmed case, but it did not quell her concerns.

“The letter was pretty vague,” she said. “It just said to make sure your children wash their hands and have hand sanitizer around.”

Futrell said when she inquired more about the case, specifically what grade the student was in and how long the child had MRSA, her questions went unanswered.

She added after speaking with Willis Hare Principal Barbara Stephenson, she found the effort to clean the school consisted of extra custodians and higher concentrated bleach.

When Futrell asked about the student, Stephenson told her the student had caught MRSA from a younger sibling.

Futrell insists she never wanted to know who the student is, just how long the student may have had MRSA and what grade the child was in.

“My concern is they never shut the school down,” she said. “I did not send (my child) today and will not send her until they shut the school down and clean it.”

MRSA or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a type of bacteria that causes staph infections which are resistant to treatment with usual antibiotics. According to the CDC web site, most MRSA cases occur in a healthcare setting and when it does occur in the community at large, infections are generally mild.

Specific information on preventing this infection, symptoms, and treatment is available at every school in Northampton County and on the Northampton County Schools web site:

School officials also ask parents to contact their healthcare provider or the Northampton County Health Department if they feel the need to do so.