DOE outlines health protocols after Kalaheo athletes report staph-like symptoms


On Wednesday, we reported a student at Roosevelt High School contracted MRSA, which is a staph infection resistant to some antibiotics.

Over at Kalaheo High School, parents got a letter after eight football players reported staph-like symptoms.

In the letter, the principal says all the athletes that reported skin lesions have been treated.

Physical education teacher Chris Akana noticed the weight room was clean Thursday, but says he’s been reaching out to school staff since 2012 with issues about cleanliness.

Akana says he knows of at least two educational assistants who had MRSA infections last year and he’s concerned about safety.

“I’ve been coming up with a different lesson that we can take inside of the classroom,” Akana said.

A former student who didn’t want to share his name says he was treated for staph last year when he played football at the school.

“I started bringing my own stuff to wipe down equipment because it’s so bad in there,” said the former student.

Principal Susan Hummel wrote: “Our custodial staff cleans the weight room regularly” and “Physical Education teachers will be trained or retrained to ensure that weight room equipment is disinfected after students use the equipment during PE classes.”

Eddie Clattenburg, owner of the gym EC Fitness, says his equipment is wiped down daily. A cleaning crew comes in five times a week to clean, and members have access to spray bottles with disinfectant and towels. They wipe down mats, dumbbells and exercise balls on a regular basis.

“Everyone knows if you are going to a gym on a regular basis, you are going their for health reasons. You don’t want to get sick at the gym,” Clattenburg said.

The Department of Education says that coaches and athletic staff are trained to take precautions to prevent infections, use gloves and sanitary measures during games and practices, among other things.

They also have been reminded to ensure protocols are being followed.

According to a DOE spokesman:

All DOE athletic directors and trainers take precautions against the spread of communicable diseases, including the steps described below in the Parent and Student-Athlete Handbook.

1. Coaches and athletic staff are trained with regard to (a) communicable diseases, including bloodborne pathogens; (b) appropriate care in the event of blood-injuries, or circumstances with a communicable disease risk; and (c) appropriate measures to take to protect other individuals from exposure.

2. Appropriate precautions, protective gloves, and sanitary measures should be used at athletic events (including games and practices).

3. All wounds, cuts, and abrasions are to be covered to prevent infection.

4. Coaches inform students (a) not to share equipment, water, clothing, towels, soap and other personal items; (b) to clean their practice and game uniforms after each use; and (c) to shower with soap as soon as possible after practices and competitions to decrease exposure to bacteria.

5. Surfaces that are frequently touched should be cleaned and disinfected regularly (i.e. benches, athletic training room tables, weight room equipment, wrestling mats, chairs, etc.).

6. Coaches and students are made aware of the potential risk of skin infections caused by staph bacteria and should seek immediate medical attention in the event of such infections.

DOE Athletic Directors have been reminded to ensure the above protocols are being followed properly by all training staff. The handbook is distributed to all student-athletes and their parents at the beginning of the school year.

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