East Syracuse-Minoa: 'Superbug' hits home

Recent outbreaks of MRSA (pronounced "mer-sa") -- which is antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria -- have grabbed national media attention and provoked panic among people in various cities across the nation. Locally, the "superbug" has been confirmed in school districts including Syracuse, North Syracuse, Liverpool, Central Square, Marcellus, Oswego and East Syracuse-Minoa.

While schools seem to be the current common ground for recent cases, there is neither evidence nor reason to believe that schools are the source of the outbreaks, said Dr. Donna DeSiato, superintendent of the ES-M school district, where two confirmed cases were reported. The infection could happen anywhere in the community, DeSiato said.

School officials are taking the health threat seriously.

"We certainly take continuous measures on a daily basis," DeSiato said. "[We] take keeping our buildings and facilities both clean and disinfected on a regular basis very seriously."

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureous, is spread from person-to-person contact, or through contact with a contaminated item such as a towel, clothing or athletic equipment. Cuts, abrasions or other skin flaws such as psoriasis may breed MRSA.

"We're very fortunate because at ES-M, our disinfectant is the disinfectant that does address this particular staph infection," DeSiato said. "We use that on a regular basis."

Parents were made aware of the two cases, one at Pine Grove Middle School and the other at the high school.

The district's web site posts letters written by DeSiato and Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow.

"There is awareness [about MRSA] right now, so we want to make sure with that awareness, we provide educational information about how to address this," DeSiato said

To read DeSiato's and Morrow's letters, visit esmschools.org.

"This is a very common type of infection, so it typically will be found in most communities on a regular basis," DeSiato said, attributing the national attention to the most severe case, found in Virginia, where one student died.

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