More than a dozen Clark County high school football players infected with the contagious skin disease impetigo has prompted public health and school leaders to take action.
The infection can be spread easily by skin-to-skin contact and Clark County Combined Health District leaders said they’ve investigated outbreaks on two local football teams — Greenon and Kenton Ridge high schools.
“It’s a public health concern,” Health Commissioner Charlie Patterson said.
Both districts have taken several steps to combat it, including sending letters home, and cleaning locker rooms and equipment.
Impetigo can be caused by two different bacteria, Staphylococcus or Streptococcus species — staph and strep as they’re commonly known — said Kitty Smith, nursing and communicable disease supervisor for the health district.
Bumps and blisters of any size on the skin, usually on exposed areas, are signs of the disease, Smith said.
The infectious skin disease should be treated by an antibiotic and any parents who believe their child might have the skin condition should contact a doctor, Smith said.
Impetigo is most common in children between the ages of 2 and 5, according to the Center for Disease Control.
The health district believes the current outbreak is spreading among teens in high school through contact during football games and practices.
Greenon sent letters home to the football team and their families earlier this week, Superintendent Brad Silvus said.
“Our athletic trainer is very familiar with this,” Silvus said.
The school is working closely with the health district to follow guidelines for the outbreak.
“The big thing is we’re disinfecting the locker room areas,” Silvus said.
The school has also thoroughly cleaned the weight rooms and has told players to take their equipment home to clean and sanitize it, he said.
The football team is also handing out antibacterial wipes during practices and games, the school leaders said.
The impetigo rash and blisters often break and seep a liquid, Smith said, and if that liquid comes in contact with other skin, it can spread the infection.
“We want to make sure that the blisters are crusted over, we don’t want any kind of seeping blisters out there,” she said.
Kenton Ridge High School dealt with an outbreak of confirmed and unconfirmed cases earlier this school year, Smith said.
“We put a letter out to all the players on that sports team,” Northeastern Superintendent John Kronour said.
The district also did extra cleaning in locker rooms and school buildings.
“We were doing our part to hopefully raise the level of cleanliness that much higher,” Kronour said.
The CDC doesn’t track non-invasive group A strep infections, according to its website, but estimates there are several million cases of non-invasive strep illnesses, like strep throat and impetigo, each year.