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Chesterfield Health District confirms 19 staph infection cases at Thomas Dale

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The Chesterfield Health District confirms that there are 19 cases of staph infections involving members of the Thomas Dale football teams.

Despite more than a dozen infections earlier this month, Principal Dr. Chris Jones notified parents in a message Thursday afternoon after CBS 6 inquired about staph infection reports. Jones said the school had only notified the families of the players involved, at the suggestion of the local health department.

“Yes, we deemed it only necessary to send to the football team as the skin infection is spread by close skin-to-skin contact and not generally with casual contacts,” said Chesterfield Health District Director Dr. Alexander Samuel in a statement. “We provided recommendations about personal hygiene, not sharing items (i.e. razors, towels, equipment, etc.), and keeping wounds covered.”

In that letter dated September 11, the Chesterfield Health District confirmed they were notified of an "outbreak of a skin infection” on the Thomas Dale Football teams. According to health officials, staph is a very common bacteria found on the skin and can cause skin infections when people have open cuts or wounds and that are not cleaned properly.

Samuel said that infected players should be checked by coaches and the athletic trainer and should not be playing/practicing while infected.

“The other nurses and athletic trainers were made aware of this issue at Thomas Dale and have heightened surveillance for football teams at other schools,” he added.

School officials say there have been no new cases identified in a week.

“We are appreciative of those who worked to deep clean our athletic field house and the football equipment after the issue was identified,” said Jones. “We continue to work with our students regarding proper cleaning of clothes and personal hygiene after practices and games."

“We believe that the issue has been successfully addressed,” Jones added.

A Thomas Dale mom, who asked not to be identified, says she found out about the staph infection outbreak from her child.

“It’s upsetting,” she said.

She says she doesn’t believe the school has done enough. She’s worried about other students and staff members being impacted and wants the school system to take more steps.

“Shut it all down regardless of all the games and get it taken care of. Because you can take it to another step. What if this is spreading and we have a game, then we’re allowing it to go somewhere else,” the mom added.

A spokesperson tells CBS 6 that football games will continue on as scheduled.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can submit a news tip here.

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