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School districts take aim at superbug'

TICONDEROGA The antibiotic-resistant staph infection appears headed toward the area. Methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, is a variation of the common bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus. It has evolved the ability to survive treatment with antibiotics, including penicillin and methicillin. MRSA, also known as the superbug, has been spreading across the country and has been responsible for several deaths of students who contracted the illness at school. Just last week cases were confirmed at William H. Barton Intermediate School in Queensbury, South Glens Falls High School and Granville High School. Area school officials have taken notice. We had a meeting to discuss this last week, Ticonderoga Central School Superintendent John McDonald said. We are planning a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of our athletic areas, locker rooms, rest rooms, etc. Don Olcott (buildings and grounds director) is meeting with his staff to stress the importance of cleaning so we can maintain a safe facility. We are installing new hand sanitizers in the high school, we already have them in the elementary-middle school, and our nurses are speaking with staff on how to handle things in the classroom, he added. Finally I am putting a letter together for parents to discuss our efforts and provide them some information that may help at home. Schroon Lake Central School officials are also taking action. As a precaution on MRSA and Fifth (another infection) and all the others we are sending our nurse to classes to reteach hand washing and providing reminder posters at wash stations, Schroon Superintendent Mike Bonnewell said. We also sent home a letter on Oct. 19 explaining to parents that we had these plans and that the best prevention for most communicable issues is good hygiene most importantly hand washing. We have also been in contact with the health and state ed departments to both verify this and to determine the procedures for handling a possible MRSA case, he added. MRSA is blamed for the deaths of a 17-year-old Virginia high school senior and a 12-year-old New York City middle school student earlier in October, according to the Associated Press. Simple precautions, such as washing hands and covering open wounds, are the best measures to take, according to health officials. MRSA is contracted most often by skin-to-skin contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People infected with MRSA may notice skin infections that can look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen or painful, or have pus or other drainage. More serious cases may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections or wound infections, according to the CDC Web site. At the Queensbury school, the building and the district buses were all thoroughly cleaned according to State Department of Health protocol following the students infection.

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