Vogelweh student treated for 'superbug'
October 31, 2007
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A female student at Vogelweh Elementary School who was treated last week for an antibiotic-resistant staph infection known as the “superbug” has since returned to school, officials said Tuesday.
Officials say the girl poses no threat to other students, but some parents were upset Tuesday that they weren’t notified that a child in the school had been infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA (pronounced “mer-sa”).
In recent weeks, the contagious “superbug” has received wide attention in the States because of several cases involving young students, including a few deaths. Schools in several American states closed their doors so classrooms and equipment could be disinfected thoroughly to reduce the risk of MRSA infections.
Faith Jacobson, the wife a soldier, was informed of the case Tuesday afternoon by a Stars and Stripes reporter. The mother of a first-grader and pre-school child at the Vogelweh school, Jacobson said parents should have been notified as soon as possible.
“That’s something all of us — I would think — should be notified of,” Jacobson said. “Normally, you get an e-mail about things that happen at school, but we were never notified of this. If my kids came home with something like that, I’d be upset.”
A mother standing nearby said she would be more than upset if her kids contracted MRSA.
Officials at DODDS-Europe said Tuesday that they followed the advice of health-care professionals from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center with their response. School officials would not confirm that the case involved MRSA, but Landstuhl officials acknowledged that the incident stemmed from a student’s skin being infected with MRSA.
Sue Gurley, DODDS-Europe chief of staff, said advice from the hospital was that it would not be appropriate to alert the public, and there was not significant enough concern regarding the infection.
“We took all the precautions we needed to take, working with the medical people at Landstuhl,” said Linda Curtis, DODDS-Europe deputy director.
Officials at DODDS-Europe said the student was treated at Landstuhl, released and has returned to school.
Landstuhl officials said their guidance to the school fell in line with national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations on MRSA.
“In general, it is not necessary to inform an entire school community about a single MRSA case,” said Army Col. (Dr.) William Corr, Landstuhl’s chief of preventive medicine. “With a single case, it was appropriately treated, and the level of concern was minimal. … The disease is preventable and is treatable.”
Raising concerns about MRSA is newly released data that show it’s deadlier than AIDS. Spread through skin-to-skin contact, MRSA kills more people than AIDS, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known as the CDC. In 2005, about 18,700 people in the U.S. died of invasive MRSA, and AIDS took roughly 17,000 lives in the country that year, the CDC reported.
Washing your hands, covering wounds with Band-Aids or clothing and maintaining a clean environment are steps that can be taken to prevent MRSA infections, said Army Lt. Col. Phelps Pond, chief of public health nursing at Landstuhl.
What staph infections do
Staph infections, including MRSA, generally start as small red bumps that resemble pimples, boils or spider bites. These can quickly turn into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical draining. Sometimes the bacteria remain confined to the skin. But they can also burrow deep into the body, causing potentially life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs.
Source: Mayo Clinic