Staph infections diagnosed in five more Atlanta area students

MARIETTA — Five more Atlanta area students have been diagnosed with antibiotic-resistant staph infections.

The latest cases were reported Wednesday and involve two students at North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, two students at Osborne High School in Marietta and one student at Southside High School in Atlanta.

More commonly known as MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus has been blamed for the death of a high school student in Virginia.

‘‘MRSA has emerged as a serious threat in the community,’’ North Cobb Principal Gary Boling wrote in a letter to parents earlier this week. ‘‘Until recently, MRSA was seen almost exclusively in hospitalized patients.’’

Cobb County schools spokesman Jay Dillon said cleaning crews already have sanitized classrooms where the infected students had been, as well as gyms and locker rooms. This weekend, the schools will be completely disinfected, including desks, tables and lockers, he said.

Atlanta Public Schools spokesman Joe Manguno said a similar cleaning took place at Southside High School.

Staph infections, including the serious MRSA strain, have spread through schools nationwide in recent weeks, according to health and education officials.

MRSA is a strain of staph bacteria that does not respond to penicillin and related antibiotics but can be treated with other drugs. The infection can be spread by skin-to-skin contact or sharing an item used by an infected person, particularly one with an open wound.