Medical and health coverage spreads awareness of studies like this, plus other information that keeps us fit. Send students on a search for another newspaper report on a different topic from the medical world.
Not all articles and tips about healthful living involve medicine or disease. Ask pupils to spot features in the Lifstyle, Sports or Food pages with guidance for staying in good shape.
Health and safety information also is delivered in low-key ways, such as by showing cyclists with helmets and drivers wearing seat belts. See if class members can find news, advertising or even cartoon images that reinforce good behavior or illustrate risky activity, such as smoking.
Health officials, parents and school administrators around the country are on edge because an antibiotic-resistant germ is causing serious infections and was fatal for a 17-year-old Virginia high school senior last week. This "superbug" is not new, but draws attention now that a new report says extreme cases are far more frequent than doctors realized.
The drug-resistant form of resistant staphylococcus -- called staph for short -- causes more than 94,000 severe infections and nearly 19,000 deaths every year in the United States, the Journal of the American Medical Association disclosed last week. Within days, school officials in at least seven states told parents of recent or current cases among students. Staph bacteria typically exists on our skin or in nasal passages, often without causing infection. And many infections are mild, with the body successfully fighting the germ. But this powerful strain of the microbe, which is passed by touch, can turn minor cuts and sores into life-threatening conditions -- especially for very young children and the elderly. A contaminated cut or scrape can become red, swollen or increasingly painful. If not treated quickly with the right antibiotics, the germ can spread into vital organs -- which is what killed the teen-age boy in Virginia.
So schools and other public institutions are using bleach to disinfect halls, bathrooms and particularly locker rooms, gyms and sports equipment. Students and adults are being reminded that wounds should be covered and that frequent, thorough hand-washing reduces infection risk. The bug can also be picked up in hospitals or nursing homes, which have been more aware of the risk and take sanitation precautions.
Specialist says: "This is a significant public health problem. We should be very worried. These life-threatening infections are much more common than we had thought." -- Scott K. Fridkin, federal Centers for Disease Control researcher who co-wrote new report
How it spreads: Staph is passed by skin-to-skin contact or through sharing a towel, razor or sports equipment used by an infected person, particularly one with an open wound.
What to do: Use soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly. Never share a towel or razor. Keep a bandage on cuts or open sores. Wipe gym gear and sports equipment with a sanitized cloth before and after use.
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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