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More schools reporting drug-resistant staph

/ Source: The Associated Press

More reports are coming in from schools around the country about cases of antibiotic-resistant staph infections.

School officials in in at least a half a dozen state, including upstate New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire have sent letters home to parents informing them of recent cases. School officials at one North Carolina high school say at least six football players have the strain of the bug known as MRSA. And in West Virginia, at least seven students at three different schools have been diagnosed with it.

Earlier this week, a Virginia high school student died from a MRSA infection.

Health and education officials say staph infections like the antibiotic-resistant strain have spread through schools nationwide in recent weeks. That's been prompting schools to scrub down facilities, particularly locker rooms, gyms and sports equipment.

A government study out this week says more than 90,000 Americans could get the "superbug" each year. The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Julie Gerberding, says the infection rate hasn't been measured before, so it's hard to make comparisons. But she says "the number is too high" and needs to be driven down.

Speaking on TODAY Thursday, Gerberding said while the MRSA bacteria are more difficult to treat, there are drugs that work if the infection is recognized in time.

The bug can also be picked up in hospitals.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly 19,000 people died from severe MRSA infections in the U.S. in 2005.