Westside Educates Parents About Staph

OCTOBER 26, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:00 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- The spread of staph in this area continues to be on the minds of many Region 8 parents. Yet another case was confirmed Thursday within the Westside School District, totaling 16 confirmed cases so far. A public forum was held at Westside Thursday night, where infectious disease specialist Dr. Carl Abraham spoke about disease and what parents can do to help prevent it from spreading.

A local infectious disease nurse, who also is a Westside parent, says she really wasn't surprised to hear of this month's staph outbreak in the school.

"It's in the community. I expected it. I expect it to be in every school before very long if not already there," says Samantha Simpson.

But for those parents who don't know as much about it, the word of staph infection in your child's school can be shocking and that's exactly why Westside school administrators decided to hold a public forum to better educate the parents.

"Well, initially I was terrified. I think initially it was extremely scary for anyone as a parent to send their kids to school, but like with anything I think you just have to take extra precaution and I think Westside has certainly done that," says Andi Bandi, a Westside parent.

But it's not just the schools that should do the teaching; children need to be constantly reminded to wash their hands to prevent the spread of this highly contagious infection.

"I think it's important for us as parents to teach our children not only when they go to school to wash their hands, but to take the extra caution to do those things at home as well," says Bandi.

All parents we spoke with at the forum say they are extremely pleased with the way Westside handled the outbreak.

"You know the first reaction is to hide that kind of thing and keep it very quite, but Westside stood up and they did the right thing. They closed the school, they cleaned, they disinfected, and now they're teaching. Education is the biggest thing," says Samantha Simpson.

Meanwhile, The National Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta have commended Westside district officials on their handling of the outbreak and even have plans to send a research team to the school to learn more about how they dealt with the disease.