Local Schools Protect Students Against MRSA

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - Since one East Tennessee hospital chain began testing for it, MRSA is showing up in at least a fifth of the patients showing up for elective surgery.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd looks at why MRSA and other staph are spreading from the emergency room to your children's classroom and how you can prevent it.

Nasty as Danny Shankles' staph looks, it hurts, worse!

"Sharp pains, you actually have excruciating pain coming from them," Shankles said.

Showed up this weekend, but:

"I was gone out of town Saturday, and Monday I had to work," Shankles said.

"This is one you should be afraid of," Dr. Jay Hammett said. "This germ will go from a tiny pimple to something the size of a golf ball in three days."

In five years, Jay Hammett's Northeast Knoxville clinic's gone from seeing 5 cases of staph a week to five a day.

"We live in a world that's not as clean as we wish it was," Hammett said.

Close quarters, lots of bodies, lots of sweat - a recipe for MRSA and other staph to foster and fester. Which is why:

"We use a strong disinfectant to clean everything every day, which is supposed to kill staph and other things," said Knox County Schools Health Supervisor Aleece Netherland Stewart.

Just before this school year started, Knox County disinfectant-bombed every Middle and High School locker room for three straight weekends. It'll happen again soon.

Beyond that, every athletes parent gets a handbook stressing.

"The best thing to keep this down is handwashing," Stewart said.

Sani-wiping shopping carts, keypads, faucets and doors helps too. Fortunately, doctors say MRSA does respond to old school tetracycline and sulfa drugs--both dirt cheap.

"I've got some sanitary wipes that I try to do. Sometimes, you forget--sometimes you're busy trying to get to another place," Shankles said.

With MRSA or any strain of staph unfortunately, delay can be more than dangerous:

"If you get it on a Saturday, go to a walk in clinic immediately. Don't wait til Monday cause if you wait, you might have to have surgery to have a large abscess drained," Hammett said.

Dr. Hammett says staph, particularly MRSA resembles a spider bite at first. Knox County has reported 8 suspected cases of staph, this school year, but confirmed only two. Neither are the most-dangerous MRSA strain.


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