A private Carmel Valley high school was closed Friday so the campus could be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after a student may have exposed others to a dangerous drug-resistant staph infection.
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The student at Cathedral Catholic High School may have Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA, according to the school's website.
School President Stevan R. Laaperi issued the following statement late Thursday: "Cathedral Catholic High School has been notified that there has been a possible case of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in one of our students.
In a letter to parents, posted on Cathedral Catholic's website, school officials said, "We feel that we are best serving the interests and well-being of our students, families and employees by taking this precaution. The campus will remain closed to all student, faculty, staff and parents until school resumes Monday morning."
In addition to classes, all weekend on-campus athletic and drama activities were canceled. Some off-campus activities may take place as scheduled; however, no one will be allowed on campus to pick up equipment and uniforms, school officials said.
10News spoke with a couple of students at the school Thursday evening and they thought a female student had been infected with MRSA on a retreat and just returned to school earlier that day.
Rady Children's Hospital leads the nation in clinical research for MRSA, and Dr. John Bradley, chief of infectious disease, said even he feels helpless when faced with invasive MRSA.
"There must be a better way," Bradley said. "Everyone is looking for a better way to save these kids."
"Every kid we take care of, it's like our own child; that's why we were here," Bradley added.
Ten years ago, MRSA did not exist in San Diego, but MRSA is becoming more common and more aggressive, medical experts say.
"It's more resistant and more virulent," Bradley said.
There are two types of cases: skin, which they see thousands of cases a year, and invasive, which are rare, but risky. In fact, when diagnosed with the latter, a child can die in a matter of years.
"The frustration, I think, begins with being with kids that are dying because there's no effective treatment," said infectious disease nurse Nanette Black.
Rady Children's Hospital is working to raise about $3 million in order to come up with a treatment, which they hope to have ready to use in the next few years.
According to the County Department of Public Health's website:
"Cleaning surfaces with routinely used detergent-based cleaners or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants is effective at removing MRSA. It is important to read the instruction labels on all products to make sure they are used safely and appropriately. For example, many disinfectants require at least 30 seconds of contact time on a surface to ensure killing of bacteria."
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