(10/19/2007)
At least seven students across West Virginia have tested positive with a dangerous "super bug" staph infection.

School administrators in Berkeley, Boone and Logan counties are advising students and staff to wash their hands frequently as schools are scrubbed down with disinfectant.

The bacteria - Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA - has been a cause for concern because in recent weeks a Virginia high school student died after being hospitalized with the infection.

Five students in various Berkeley County schools have been diagnosed with MRSA, along with one student in Boone County at Scott High School and another at Logan Middle School.

The MRSA staph bacteria does not respond to penicillin and related antibiotics but can be treated with other drugs. The infection can be spread by skin-to-skin contact or sharing an item used by an infected person, particularly one with an open wound.

West Virginia Bureau of Public Health Director of Infectious Disease Dr. Dee Bixler says there are ways to prevent MRSA infection, including thorough hand washing and "not sharing personal items, clothing, towels, wash cloths, razors, lotions, that kind of thing."

All cuts and scrapes should be kept clean and covered until they heal.

"Remember that MRSA is spread by people and shared items. It's not spread by the building. It's not spread by furniture. It's an organism on the skin," says Dr. Bixler.


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