By Dean Manning/Staff Writer

Laurel County school officials are emphasizing preventative measures after several students have contracted staph infections.

“We saw the first case about two weeks ago and in that time, there have been less than 10,” said Duff Holcomb, the school health coordinator.

Holcomb said health officials from Baptist Regional Medical Center, Marymount Medical Center and the health department spoke to the principals from the county’s schools about the particular strain of the staph, known as MRSA.

Holcomb said this strain used to be found primarily at hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

“The good thing is that it responds to treatment by plain old sulfa,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb said staph infections appear similar to spider bites. The sores will produce a puss substance and may appear anywhere on the body.

The principals were asked to send a letter home with all of their students explaining staph and telling parents what they can do to prevent it from spreading.

Holcomb said preventative measures include proper hand washing on a regular basis, bandaging any cuts or scrapes and ensuring good hygiene.

“If the staph is treated with antibiotics, the student shouldn’t miss more than a couple of days of school,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb said anyone participating in athletics or other physical activities are encouraged to wash their workout clothes or uniforms daily, along with helmets and padding that have been used.

“Staph likes heat and moisture,” Holcomb said.

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