Five students at Bart-Colerain Elementary School have been confirmed to have impetigo, a highly contagious skin disease characterized by pustular eruptions.A letter was sent home to parents of Bart-Colerain students Tuesday to make them aware of the impetigo cases and also the efforts the school district is taking to prevent additional cases.

According to a press release, desks, tables, computers and all other items at the school have been thoroughly cleaned with the recommended cleaning agents/disinfectants. The transportation committee is identifying buses used by the students that will be cleaned.

A letter from school nurse Elaine Slusser sent home with students is as follows:

We have recently had several students with impetigo. Impetigo is a highly contagious skin disease characterized by pustular eruptions. It is seen primarily in infants and children.

Impetigo is caused by one of two kinds of bacteria-strep (streptococcus) or staph (staphylococcus). Often these bacteria enter the body when the skin has already been irritated or injured because of other skin problems such as eczema, poison ivy, insect bites, chickenpox, burns, or cuts. Children may get impetigo after they have had a cold or allergies that have made the skin under the nose raw. However, impetigo can also develop in completely healthy skin.

If you know someone who has impetigo, try to avoid close contact with that person until his or her infection has gone away. You should also avoid sharing towels, pillows, sheets, clothes, toys, or other items with an infected person. If possible, wash any items that may have been shared in hot water before you use them again.

If you or your child has impetigo, scratching the sores can spread the infection to other areas of your body and to other people. Keeping the sores covered can help you or your child resist scratching them. Washing your or your child's hands with antibacterial soap can also prevent spreading the infection. If your child has a cut or insect bite, covering it with antibiotic ointment can help prevent impetigo.

You may have impetigo if you have sores with any of the following symptoms:

o On your skin, especially around the nose or mouth. The sores begin as small red spots, then change to blisters that eventually break open. The sores are generally not painful, but they may be itchy.

o That ooze fluid and look crusty. Sores often look like they have been coated with honey or brown sugar.

o That increase in size and number. Sores may be as small as a pimple or as large as a coin.

Your doctor can usually diagnose impetigo just by looking at your or your child's skin. Impetigo is treated with antibiotics. For cases of mild impetigo, a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic ointment to put on the sores. For cases of more serious impetigo, a doctor may also prescribe antibiotic pills. After three days of treatment, you or your child should begin to get better. A child can usually return to school or daycare after 48 hours of treatment. If you apply the ointment or take the pills exactly as prescribed, most sores will be completely healed in a week.

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