New Cases of Staph Strike Westside

October 24, 2006--Posted at 6:35 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR--Despite cleaning every possible surface of their schools and having students wash their hands more frequently, new cases of staph have appeared in the Westside School District.

"That's a total of one confirmed and two unconfirmed in the high school. In elementary, we have two confirmed in the kindergarten. One case of impetigo that we feel is related to staph and another questionable case of poison ivy that we could be related to staph as well," said Dr. James Best, Westside Superintendent.

That's a total of three new confirmed cases and four unconfirmed cases at the school. While none of the new cases are serious enough to send students to the hospital, it is an issue of concern. While Westside has been in the spotlight in it's battle against the staph bacteria, the district is not alone in the fight.

"Indications that I have from the medical community is that it is fairly significant here in Craighead County," said Best.

Other schools are taking notice of the staph outbreak at Westside. Monday night's rescheduled football game versus Osceola almost didn't happen, because Osceola was scared of the risk that they might contract staph from the Westside Football Team.

"We had to have medical certification to give Osceola assurance that we were safe to play against," said Best.

The district plans to continue monitoring the situation with school nurses presenting daily status reports concerning new cases. Best says that if the rate of new cases accelerates, the school will be forced to regroup and come up with a new strategy. A strategy that may include closing the school again.

"I will tell you this, when it comes to the safety of our kids, we're going to do whatever we have to do. I hope it doesn't get to that point but if it does we'll consider that," said Best.

Thursday at 6 p.m. Westside will host a PowerPoint staph presentation to inform parents about what staph is and how to protect against. It is free to the public and will be hosted by Dr. Carl Abraham, an infectious disease specialist.