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Students warned to wash hands, stay home from school if symptoms appear

School leaders at Hazelbrook Middle School in Tualatin sent a letter to parents last week, warning of an outbreak of impetigo, a highly contagious skin infection.

In a letter emailed to families and sent home with students on Wednesday, Dec. 11, parents were told some students had shown signs of the infection and said steps were being made to keep the infection from spreading.

About a half-dozen students began to develop skin sores that didn’t heal, school officials said. The infection is easily prevented with proper hand washing and is caused by a staph or strep infection.

The school cleaned each classroom, officials said. All flat surfaces, doorknobs, water faucet handles and other places of possible contamination were also disinfected.

Impetigo isn’t uncommon in schools, said Tigard-Tualatin School District spokeswoman Susan Stark Haydon. The infection is common among pre-school children.

The disease is easily treated with antibiotics, and officials said students showing symptoms of the disease should be kept home until they have completed 24 hours of antibiotic treatment.

The infection is spread through contact with the lesions. School officials said students should wash their hands and avoid skin-on-skin contact or contact with contaminated clothes.

It takes a week or more for students to show symptoms.

“Please take this opportunity to talk to your children about washing their hands,” the letter read. “It is good practice both in light of the current Impetigo cases as well as to prevent seasonal colds and flu.” 

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