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New MRSA case at Hauppauge High

Hauppauge Public Schools officials Wednesday announced a confirmed case of an infection with potentially dangerous MRSA bacteria -- at least the third case at the high school this year.

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Patricia Sullivan-Kriss said the district is responding by acting on protocols developed to stop the spread of the bacteria, including sanitizing instructional areas. She asked parents to remind their children of proper hygiene habits and to consult a physician if they suspect a MRSA infection.

"It is important for the school district to be able to track students with MRSA," Sullivan-Kriss wrote in the letter. The district issued similar advisories involving Hauppauge High School in February and June.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a strain of staph bacteria that's resistant to common antibiotics. Most infections result in minor skin irritation, but MRSA can be life-threatening if it enters the bloodstream through an open wound.

No information was immediately available on the severity of the latest case. School officials could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this year, MRSA in Hauppauge schools made headlines when high school wrestler Nick Mauriello, 17, was in critical condition after the infection developed into a rare and potentially fatal condition called Lemierre's syndrome.

He spent 19 days in Stony Brook University Children's Hospital in January and February. Mauriello has since recovered and is wrestling again.

The number of Long Islanders who become infected each year with MRSA is difficult to estimate. The state and county health departments do not track individual cases and become involved only when there is a cluster of cases or outbreak.

Nationally, the number of invasive, life-threatening MRSA cases has fallen, especially in hospitals, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2008 -- the latest year available -- the CDC reported 89,785 cases of invasive MRSA and 15,249 deaths. In 2007, there were 94,897 cases and 16,118 deaths.

With Ridgely Ochs


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