Nine West Virginia State University football players have tested positive for MRSA, a drug-resistant staph infection, according to Public Relations Director Pat Dickinson.

The Cabell County school system is reporting MRSA at two schools in the past few weeks, both students having been treated and back in school.

Other WV school systems have reported MRSA in their schools, with some of the cases being reported in the state's media.

Health officials have not declared an outbreak of the disease in WV, saying MRSA cases have always been around.

Parents have boycotted schools in some school districts and stopped school buses, in what officials say is an overreaction.

Single MRSA cases are not required by the state to be reported to health officials, and school systems are not automatically notified of cases in their communities.

Health officials say the number of MRSA cases, at least those reported, have been fairly consistent since MRSA flared in 2003-04.

In 2003-04, West Virginia epidemiologists reported the infection for the first time in some correctional facilities, in two households in Marshall County and in a "close-knit social group in Calhoun County."

After media attention, most school systems are making major efforts to disinfect their schools and teach practices which prevent the spread of the disease.

While MRSA doesn't respond to penicillin and related antibiotics, it 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.

Dee Bixler, the state's Director of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, said "20 to 40 percent of the population has it at any given time. When it gets infected, most of the time it's easily curable."

There are two different strands of MRSA. The hospital strand is much more difficult to treat. It lasts a lot longer and generally happens in people who are already sick and have very serious infections.

The cases being reported regionally are the community strand. It happens in people who are generally healthy and is generally mild and treatable.

Doctors say actually dying from this type of MRSA is highly unlikely. With this new strain, most infections are skin infections and recovery is the norm.

The first cases of MRSA were noted in West Virginia in 2003 when there were outbreaks at the regional jail system. It's a strand that is known to have been in the U.S. since 1999.

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