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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Staph infections and School

Good hygiene is the best defense against a "superbug" that has affected schools nationwide, and even killed people. The Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O'Connell told students last week in a Burlingame school that there is an aggressive antibiotic-resistant staph infection that can kill you out there - and it is serious. He encouraged students to wash there hands frequently and not share towels to reduce the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

MRSA undermines the body's defenses by causing germ-fighting cells to explode, and the infection may be killing as many people each year as AIDS. Staph infections have been associated with hospitals and people with reduced immune functioning, but the recent outbreaks are on sports teams, in prisons, on cruise ships where people are relatively healthy, making it more dangerous.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MRSA is spread by skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the staph infection; as well as contact with the germs on surfaces that contain the bacteria; cuts and scrapes; crowded living conditions; and poor hygiene. The infection can look like pimples or boils, and may be red, swollen, painful and have pus. There is a parents guide available at the CDPH.

Photo credit: c0ldgirl

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.