Outbreak of impetigo at Oroville High School

OROVILLE – Oroville School District has confirmed that several students have contracted a skin infection known as impetigo.

Although impetigo is not usually a serious condition, it is very infectious, and if not treated promptly complications may occasionally occur.

The infection seemed to have first shown up on several of the Oroville High School football players and Coach Tam Hutchinson alerted other coaches at Brewster, Okanogan and Tonasket. He said his players had been practicing in long sleeves and all practice gear was being washed. He said his players would be playing in the upcoming games wearing long sleeves to avoid skin to skin contact.

“After the JV game Monday night, I noticed some of the boys playing had red spots on their forearms. By the next day the red spots turned white and several of the varsity players started showing spots,” said Coach Hutchinson. “All the boys have them in roughly the same area on the forearms and inside crook of the elbow.”

Part of the reason Coach Hutchinson contacted the other coaches was because of someone calling Brewster asking about what’s happening in Oroville.

Hutchinson said that all of his players have been to the doctors and were being treated. At that point the coach and players were still waiting for the results of the cultures taken. Since then the school heard back from the clinic confirming it was impetigo.

“We have no idea where it came from,” said Hutchinson. “I have never seen anything like this in all my years coaching.”

Hutchinson added, “Whoever is calling around and making it seem like we are hiding something is misleading people. We are taking every precaution to make sure it doesn’t spread among our players or opponents.”

Oroville High School Principal Kristin Sarmiento sent out an letter confirming the infection and with information regarding signs and symptoms as follows:

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Red sores that quickly rupture and ooze for a few days forming a yellow crust.
  • Painless fluid filled blisters and itching
  • Tenderness of the sores and swollen glands nearby are common.

Causes

Impetigo is caused by common skin germs called Streptococcus (“strep”) and Staphylococcus (“staph”) Both types of bacteria can live harmlessly on your skin and only cause trouble when the skin is injured by a cut, scrape, or scratch. Bacteria flourish wherever groups of people are in close contact; impetigo spreads easily in schools and child care settings.

Other factors that increase the risk of impetigo include:

  • Direct contact with an adult or child who has impetigo or with contaminated towels, bedding or clothing
  • Participation in sports that involve skin-to-skin contact, such as football or wrestling
  • Pre-existing chronic dermatitis, especially atopic dermatitis

Treatment

Impetigo is treated with a prescription antibiotic ointment or an oral antibiotic specific to the germs causing the sores. Your doctor will decide what treatment is appropriate for your child. All skin lesions should be kept completely covered until healed.

Prevention

Impetigo can be prevented by avoiding direct contact with a contagious person and by careful hand washing with soap and water after contact with the sores. It’s highly contagious, so just touching or scratching the sores can spread the infection to other parts of the body. The spread of impetigo can be prevented by prompt treatment. At school we are disinfecting and sanitizing common surfaces including locker rooms and classrooms.

We hope this information is helpful to you. If your child shows any of the above signs and symptoms, please keep him/her home, contact your physician, and notify the school nurse. Please feel free to contact us with any questions. You may reach Mrs. Harvey, the district nurse at 509-476-3612.

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