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15 diagnosed with staph at Dacula High

DULUTH — Fifteen student-athletes at Duluth High School have been diagnosed with staph infections, a Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman said Thursday.

Staph is a skin infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that is most commonly spread by skin-to-skin contact. Staph bacteria cause one of the most common forms of skin infection in the United States, but some staph infections, called MRSA, are resistant to certain antibiotics.

What is staph?

Staph, or Staphylococcus aureus, is a bacteria that can cause skin infections. Some staph infections, called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, are resistant to certain antibiotics

What does a staph infection look like?

Staph bacteria can cause skin infections that may look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. MRSA lesions are commonly identified as suspected spider bites. More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections or surgical wound infections.

How is staph infection spread?

Anyone can get a staph infection. Staph is most commonly spread by direct skin-to-skin contact. Staph can also be spread when an infected person uses and shares items with an uninfected person without cleaning or sanitizing the item first, like sharing towels, soap, razors or athletic equipment.

How can you prevent a staph infection?

Staph infections can be prevented by practicing good hygiene:

• Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.

• Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.

• Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.

• Clean/sanitize objects and surfaces that you share with other people before you use it, such as athletic equipment.

What should you do if you suspect a staph infection?

Call your doctor or health care provider as soon as possible. Most staph and MRSA infections are treatable with antibiotics. Early treatment can prevent serious complications.

Source: Gwinnett County Health Department

Although it is unknown if the students’ staph infections are related or if they are the MRSA strand, the school wants the community to be aware of the situation, spokeswoman Sloan Roach said. Principal Jason Lane sent a letter home with students Thursday with information about staph infections.

“Staph infections, no matter what kind or what strand they are, are something that need to be taken seriously,” Roach said. “We’re working with the Health Department in every way we can and taking the necessary steps to make sure our students stay healthy.”

As soon as school officials realized some of the students had staph infections, they met with custodians, who started cleaning the field house. School officials also met with representatives from the Health Department, who provided additional recommendations to the school, Roach said.

Roach said school officials and coaches are following the protocol provided by the Health Department. As long as students are under the care of a physician and the infection is covered, the students are allowed to attend school and participate in activities.

Anyone who suspects they have a staph infection is urged to see a doctor, Roach said.