October 24, 2007

Dear Parent or Guardian:

We’re writing to all of you today who have a child attending a K-8 Grand Island Public School regarding a health issue related to one of our students. The High School letter will go out tomorrow because of the late time that we first learned of this issue. My office was just informed this afternoon of a confirmed case of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) which was diagnosed a few days ago for a Middle School student. The student was treated and cleared by his/her physician and has since returned to the Middle School.

The District continues to take proactive measures in all of our schools to maintain a healthy environment. Although this is the only confirmed case of which the District is aware and while it involves a Middle School student, the District is taking the added precaution of notifying all parents and guardians that it was diagnosed and treated. Accurate information and full disclosure marks what we try to do as a school district.

MRSA is a type of bacteria that is commonly spread through close direct skin to skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts and abrasions, and poor hygiene. While it is found more frequently among hospital and nursing home patients and more recently athletes, anyone can get MRSA skin infections and in fact it is estimated that about 25% of the students and adults have the bacteria on them at any one time. These skin infections are generally minor and first appear as pimples, boils and similar conditions. MRSA can be however resistant to certain antibodies and, left untreated, can develop into a very serious staph infection.

Middle School officials have been in contact with the Erie County Health Department for their guidance and advice on how the District should proceed to help reduce the risk of other students and/or staff becoming infected. We deeply appreciate their support. The Erie County Health Department and Center for Disease Control indicate that the best preventative measures include:

•   Frequent and thorough hand washing.
•   Keeping cuts and scrapes covered with bandages and disposing of the used bandages properly.
•   Careful laundering of personal articles with detergent and/or bleach in hot water and hot drying of clothing items.
•   Elimination of the sharing of equipment and personal items such as towels.
•   Keeping clean facilities especially bathrooms.

All the precautionary measures recommended by the Erie County Health Department were immediately reviewed in the Middle School.

If you believe someone in your household has a soft skin condition/infection such as a boil or abscess and may have this infection, the Erie County Health Department recommends that a health care provider is seen immediately. Because MRSA is so wide spread throughout the entire country, we urge you to take all the necessary precautions at home as we are doing in our schools to prevent contracting this disease. We will continue as a school district to keep you all well informed of any situations which potentially impact the health and safety of your children.


Robert W. Christmann
Superintendent of Schools