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Student aims to prevent infection

Mentor helps with MRSA brochure

POSTED: November 17, 2007 5:05 a.m.

GAINESVILLE — An East Hall High School senior is getting an inside look at one of the biggest scares of the day — methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterial skin infection that is difficult to treat.

Jesus Castrejon is producing a bilingual brochure on MRSA, which got heightened attention in October when the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report warning about its spread into communities.

Castrejon has conducted research and is developing the brochure as a student in the Hall County school system’s Honors Mentorship Program, which pairs career-minded students with professionals in the fields they’d like to pursue.

Castrejon, who is considering a medical career, is working with Dr. William Thomas, a Gainesville pathologist.

The student gave a computerized presentation at the Hall County Board of Education’s monthly meeting Monday night.

Castrejon said the brochure will show how MRSA can be prevented, what it looks like, "how people know they have it and what are ways to keep it ... from spreading."

After his presentation, the soft-spoken student injected some humor into the sobering discussion. "If you have any questions, ask them of Dr. Thomas," he said.

Thomas did have a few thoughts on the MRSA.

"It’s been in the hospital system for some time and now it’s left the hospital and it’s in the community," he said. "... I think it’s going to force us in general to get more public education, because that’s the best way of solving this problem."

He also said that while MRSA is an important issue, the school system has a wide range of other problems.

"There’s also problems with drugs and violence in our schools," Thomas said. "We’ve got to solve them all. You look at the incidence of (MRSA) — it is low."

He praised the Honors Mentorship Program as a way of helping students and professionals alike.

"No matter how much you learn or know about your area, (students) will always look at things differently and bring a different perspective," Thomas said. "A lot of times ... we don’t get to see the practicality of how people view what we do."

Castrejon said, "It’s been awesome being with Dr. Thomas. ... It’s something I wouldn’t see in high school."



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