Monday, January 22, 2007

More on HC Skin Infections

POSTED: 6:03 pm CST January 18, 2007
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- State Department of Health officials are investigating bizarre skin lesions and blisters reported by many storm-relief volunteers working in Hancock County.
The department's district medical director, Robert Travnivcek, said for the past several months, health officials have collected evidence and interviewed workers.
Travnivcek said epidemiologists will determine whether the lesions are part of a disease outbreak, a rise in a common infection or simply a coincidence involving unrelated volunteers, who are all working in Hancock County and bothered by similar afflictions.
A nurse practitioner in the emergency room at Hancock Medical Center, Shana Blakeny, said they've been seeing patients with rashes and sores for a long time.
Blakeny said some sores have been large enough to ooze fluid, that is then collected and tested in a local lab.
She said often the results have shown a Staph infection, which can range from a minor skin lesion to life-threatening bloodstream disorders.
The cause of Staph infections is a common bacterium that usually lives on the skin or in the nose. The bacterium gets into the body through a cut or medical incision.
She said the county has dealt with this for about five years but the situation has gotten worse since Hurricane Katrina.
Blakeny said it's likely locals are suffering from the same type of lesions, but have become more accustomed to the infection.

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