Methicillin-resistant staph is in the news again.
An 18-year-old student from Kissimmee, Florida has died from a powerful strain of staph infection.
Liberty High School senior Alonzo Smith, a football player had gone to Osceola Regional Medical Center on Friday complaining of back spasms. He returned to the hospital on Sunday following a reaction to the treatment. He died from a staph infection later Sunday night.
A health department spokesman said they believe Smith contracted the MRSA in the community, not in the hospital.
The school sent a letter out to parents attending Liberty High School warning them about staph infections. Parents have been told not to panic but to teach their children good hygiene practices such as frequent hand-washing and not to share combs, towels, or razors.
"He was a real cool guy, great guy," Steven Phillippe, another senior said of Smith. "I was really close with him."
The football team, the Chargers, will honor Smith at Friday night's homecoming game.
The school will be inspected to see if there is any unusual source. The infection could have come from anywhere, including another person.
MRSA, like other staph bacteria, commonly resides on skin or inside someone’s nose. It becomes dangerous when the infection spreads to the blood stream. MRSA is a potentially dangerous type of staph bacteria that is resistant to the antibiotic, methicillin.
Fatal cases of MRSA are rare, according to health officials.
In Suffolk County, Long Island, 10 cases of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) have been reported, five in the last month. Among the ten is a 15-month-old infant, a cheerleader and a teacher.
In nearby Nassau County, there have been three cases reported to the health department.
The New York state health department requires that clusters of cases, two or more, be reported to public health departments, while single cases do not have to be reported. So far no clusters have been reported on Long Island, according to Newsday.
Health officials urge parents to know what to look for. MRSA frequently appears to be a boil, or a pimple that comes to a head. Many people assume that a MRSA infection is an insect or spider bite. The bacterial infection is spread via skin contact and gym mats, equipment, or in crowded areas such as schools are likely places of transmission. Covering the wound and washing your hands is the best way to avoid transmission.
MRSA can frequently respond to other antibiotics and should be seen by a health care practitioner as early as possible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last year that there were 31.8 cases of MRSA per 100,000 people and it was becoming increasingly common among, not only hospital patients, but in other settings outside of hospitals such as community clinics and schools.
Community-acquired strains of MRSA (CA-MRSA) accounted for close to three-quarters of the cases reported by the CDC.
The CDC has launched a nationwide education campaign to inform parents and schools what to look for as the infection is much easier to contain in the early stages.
In all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 12 million skin infections are seen by doctors each year, half caused by MRSA. #