Norwalk Catholic School canceled class today for its pre-kindergarten class, called the young five's, because one student was diagnosed with the potentially dangerous staph infection Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Huron County Health Commissioner Tim Hollinger said MRSA is resistant to broad-spectrum antibiotics. "Classes were canceled today for that child's classroom only out of an abundance of caution," Hollinger said.
"In this case, everyone involved has done their job," he said.
Recent outbreaks of MRSA have caused concern and drawn attention in recent weeks. MRSA usually results in no more than a skin infection for most people, but national attention has focused on the disease after a high school student in Virginia died, a suburban Dayton school closed and the infection was found in a district in southwest Ohio.
Walter Klimaski, president of Norwalk Catholic School, said the family of the student learned of the staph infection Friday. The family took the child to a doctor because of a mark on the child's skin, Klimaski said. He added that he was told the staph infection was clearing up by Saturday.
The family called up the teacher for the class Saturday to inform her and Klimaski learned of the problem Sunday night. He contacted the Huron County Health Department for advice on how to handle the situation.
"Not knowing where we stand, we decided to cancel the classes in young five's," Klimaski said. He added that the classroom, reading area, bathrooms and possibly playground equipment will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before the 18 students in the class return to school. Klimaski did not know this morning how long class will be canceled for the young five's.
"We're sending out information to the parents this morning and posting it on our Web page," Klimaski said.
Klimaski said the child with the staph infection can return to school as long as the area infected is covered by a bandage or clothing.
"We want to be preventative here," Klimaski said. "We clean on a regular basis," but now every item in the areas must be completely disinfected. He said if any other cases turn up, the schools will continue to disinfect any areas that a student with staph has used.
The Health Department said MRSA first appeared in hospitals, but started showing up outside of hospitals in the 1990s. Doctors have credited the overuse of antibiotics with leading to the development of MRSA.
About one-fourth of the population carries the staph infection in their noses with no illness. Staph becomes a problem when it enters the body through a cut or wound. Young, elderly, ill people and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable to MRSA.
A staph-infected site may turn red, look like a pimple, look like a spider bite, look like a boil or have drainage. The skin around the bump may feel hot. Sometimes the surrounding skin turns black as the bacteria kills the skin cells. Red streaks in the surrounding area, joint pain or fever may mean that a serious infection has spread beyond the skin.
A healthy body can usually fight a staph infection on its own, but MRSA can move from skin infection to serious blood infection requiring hospitalization in a matter of days. The Health Department warned anyone with symptoms of a serious staph infection to contact a doctor immediately.
For more information, people can contact Hollinger at the Health Department at (419) 668-1652, ext. 228.