Chicago student, teacher may have MRSA

March 23, 2011 7:25:07 PM PDT
A student and teacher at the Guggenheim elementary school in Chicago may have the antibiotic-resistant infection MRSA.

On Wednesday, officials held classes at the Guggenheim School in Englewood like a normal school day, but late Wednesday afternoon the school called off all after-school activities.

There are two unconfirmed cases of possible MRSA at the school, one involving an assistant teacher, the other involving a student. Neither has been confirmed as MRSA by doctors at this point. Lab tests will determine whether the student and assistant teacher in fact have MRSA.

The school did send a note home both Tuesday and Wednesday alerting parents of the suspected cases and informing them of symptoms to watch out for.

MRSA is a contagious staph infection that is resistant to many antibiotics. Symptoms include painful, red, swollen spots on the skin.

"We have as lot of patients come here with MRSA skin infections," said Dr. Robert Daum of the University of Chicago MRSA Research Program. "Mostly they get it from contact with someone in their home with it. There's very little school spread."

A number of parents were reportedly concerned when they got the letter and some of them kept their children home from school Wednesday. Others pulled their children out of school early.

"My concern is getting the school cleaned before I send my kids back," said parent Edwina Dunn. "My kids have not came, attended, again today. And they will not attend until probably next week, until I feel that everything is all right."

School board officials say they have been working to clean and sanitize the school. They say that they have no plans at this point to close the school and believe that would be unnecessary.

The principal is reportedly planning to hold a meeting Thursday for parents.

Guggenheim is being cleaned and sanitized, but Daum says the best way to avoid MRSA is not to hug or share a towel with someone who has the infection.