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East Islip schools staffer has MRSA

A staff member in the East Islip school district has been diagnosed with the bacterial infection known as MRSA.

In a Sunday letter to parents posted at the district's website, Superintendent Linda Rozzi said an unidentified staff member at Ruth C. Kinney Elementary School in Islip Terrace has methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a staph infection that is resistant to some common antibiotics.

The letter urges parents to contact their doctors if they think one of their children has the infection and lists steps for avoiding it.

The staff member has been cleared to return to work, according to the school district.

A MRSA infection begins on the skin and can be dangerous and potentially deadly if it enters the blood stream. Public health officials advise good hygiene and avoidance of sharing personal items, such as towels and razors, to prevent spread of the bacteria.

It's the third known case in a school or university setting on Long Island since Sept. 5.

A student athlete at LIU Post in Brookville was being treated for the bacterial infection, the medical director of that university said Sept. 4.

The next day, Farmingdale State College revealed a commuter student had been diagnosed with the bacterial infection, prompting a campus alert and the cleaning of classrooms and athletic facilities.

Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken said the "sheer number of cases was not unusual," referring to the three separate cases reported this month.

"MRSA is on most people's skin," he said. "The usual precaution is to practice good hygiene, especially for any cuts."

Tomarken said schools and other institutions are not required to report single cases of MRSA, although "we are always here to help the school understand or deal with the case."

-- With Ridgely Ochs

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