Two students at a high school in Central Florida have contracted Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureaus (MRSA), a possibly fatal bacteria, the Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday, November 5. Although the students have been diagnosed, neither their condition nor the source of the infection is known.

Thumbnail image for MRSA.jpgSchool officials at East Ridge High School have ordered extra cleaning across the campus and are in the process of alerting students and families. The Principal, David Cunningham, acknowledged that the school had received confirmation and were in the process of addressing safety concerns. “We have a deep cleaning scheduled for this weekend,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “We’re having special meetings with coaches and they’re going through parent notifications.”

MRSA, also known as “staph,” is a bacterium usually found on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. The bacterium typically causes skin infection, but it can also cause infections in the bloodstream and major organs. While commonly found in hospitals and nursing homes, particularly among those with weakened immune systems, MRSA has recently been identified in food animals and a few outbreaks have been “food-initiated'”or foodborne.

When MRSA enters the bloodstream or major organs, the bacterium can be life-threatening. At least two Central Florida students died last year after suffering MRSA infections.

As a result, extra precautions are being taken at East Ridge. County School Board member Cindy Barrow said the school district will take a variety of measures to protect other students. “Precautions are being made – educational posters, talks to kids, talks to coaches, additional cleaning, parent communication,” she said. “The district is focused on prevention.”   

Photo:  This 2005 scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicted numerous clumps of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, commonly referred to by the acronym, MRSA; Magnified 2381x.  By Janice  Haney Carr.