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Practice good hygiene to avoid MRSA infection

Lawton_Another school year, another case of staph infection in the Lawton Public Schools (LPS).  LPS Communications Director Keith Mitchell says the schools aware of two infections of MRSA this year - both at Lawton High School (LHS).  7News learned of the two infections from the mother of the second student with staph.  She contacted us to ask us to tell viewers how kids can avoid the infection. 

Staph may seem scary since a sever MRSA infection can lead to death, but most people won't get seriously ill from it.  "Normal, healthy people can carry it, they just don't give it to people," said Critical Care Unit Director Pam Johnson with Comanche County Memorial Hospital.  "It's something we all live with day-to-day on our skin.  It's just those that sometimes develop diseases as the process goes, get it."

Johnson says people with diabetes or weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to the infection.  "We have made the decision to screen 100% of our patients that come in, so that we could treat everyone as soon as possible," she said.  Other individuals who need to take caution are athletes who are prone to community acquired MRSA.  They suffer cuts, and are in close proximity in places that aren't always clean.  "Notoriously, places like locker rooms, gym locker rooms would be a typical reservoir for community-acquired MRSA," said Infection Control Expert Danny Vardeman.

So what should you look out for?

MRSA can appear to be a pussy pimple or ingrown hair.  Some are commonly misdiagnosed as a spider bite, but MRSA infections can grow.  "If it persists, gets larger, perhaps the patient starts draining, running a fever, something like that, then they need to get some medical treatment," said Vardeman.

The easiest way to prevent community acquired MRSA is to use good hygiene, and wash your hands.  LPS posts reminders in school bathrooms and has sent letters to parents.  And if you do become infected - "Cover cuts and scrapes with a clean bandage, this will help the wound heal, and prevent the spread of bacteria to others.  Never touch someone else's wound or bandage," said LPS Director of Secondary Education Tom Christian.

School officials say the challenge for them is knowing when students are sick.  If your child is sick, notify the school and they will take appropriate actions.  LPS says the students are fine, and they stayed out of school until they were no longer contagious and their infections healed.

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