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‘Slow’ Figueroa-Serville Admits To Impetigo Outbreak One Day After The V.I. Freep Reports On It

juan figueroa serville

Health Commissioner Juan Figueroa-Serville

CHRISTIANSTED – On his first day on the job, Acting Health Commissioner Juan Figueroa-Serville confirmed a Tuesday report in the Virgin Islands Free Press that the department is grappling with an impetigo outbreak in St. Croix.

Two members of Health went on WSVI-TV Channel 8 Tuesday night to report that the department would be examining people on St. Croix for the highly-infectious superficial skin infection on Thursday.

Figueroa-Serville said he has activated an island-wide public health alert for the island of St. Croix “due to an outbreak of impetigo.”

Health officials “will be conducting investigations in areas were reports have been high,” Figueroa-Serville said, without identifying the areas on island that are affected.

“Adults and children are encouraged to know the signs and seek treatment,” he said.

News that St. Croix was in the throes of an impetigo outbreak was news to Education Commissioner Sharon McCollum, who said from California last night that her department had not been briefed on the health screenings underway.

“As far as I know, we don’t have any cases of impetigo in our schools,” McCollum said.

Impetigo (im-puh-TIE-go) is a highly contagious skin infection that mainly affects infants and children, according to the Health Department

Impetigo usually appears as red sores on the face, especially around a child’s nose and mouth. The sores burst and develop honey-colored crusts, the department said.

Impetigo may clear on its own in two to three weeks, but antibiotics can shorten the course of the disease and help prevent the spread to others.

“You may need to keep your child home from school or day care until he or she is no longer contagious, which is usually 24 to 48 hours after you begin antibiotic treatment,” the Health Department said in a written statement. “Without antibiotics, impetigo is contagious until the sores go away.”

Classic signs and symptoms of impetigo involve red sores that quickly rupture, ooze for a few days and then form a yellowish-brown crust.

The sores usually occur around the nose and mouth but can be spread to other areas of the body by fingers, clothing and towels.

A less common form of the disease, called bullous impetigo, may feature larger blisters that occur on the trunk or diaper area of infants and young children.

A more serious form of impetigo, called ecthyma, penetrates deeper into the skin — causing painful fluid- or pus-filled sores that turn into deep ulcers.

Impetigo is spread through direct contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin. The bacteria may also be spread through contact with persons without symptoms but who carry the bacteria on their skin.

Persons who carry the bacteria but have no symptoms are much less contagious. Treating an infected person with an antibiotic for 24 hours or longer generally prevents the spread of the bacteria to others.

However, it is important to complete the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed. Proper hygiene is key to stopping the spread. Insure that hands are sanitized and washed frequently. Those who work in child care setting are also asked to take precautions against Impetigo.

“Partnering agencies have been notified about the activation and all schools have received guidance on identifying the signs of impetigo,” the Health Department said, without supporting the statement.

For more information or to report a suspected case please contact our Environmental Health Division at (340) 718-1311.

” VIDOH reminds parents at respective schools to monitor notices sent home,” it said. “Parental presence is required for all examinations.”

To read more please click on the following link:

impetigo 98

     Impetigo on the forehead

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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