Student contracts infection

Published 6:43 pm Thursday, November 16, 2017

A mother of a Buckingham County Primary School student hospitalized with the bacterial infection Clostridium difficile — most commonly known as C-diff — contends that the infection had been contracted at the school.

The parent, Kathryn Garcia, said her son had been hospitalized twice since September for C-diff.

Garcia detailed her allegations in a Facebook post Monday, which had been shared 278 times as of Wednesday.

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She said in a phone interview that the infection caused severe dehydration, which resulted in her son having a seizure.

C-diff is an infection of the colon in which the colon becomes inflamed after contact from surfaces contaminated with the bacteria or from contact with people with the C-diff bacteria, according to material from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Those most susceptible to the infection, according to the CDC, are those with conditions requiring prolonged use of antibiotics and the elderly.

Symptoms can include watery diarrhea taking place at least three times per day for two or more days, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain or tenderness.

Dr. Cecil Snead

Buckingham County Public Schools (BCPS) Division Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead said that following the notification from the parent of her son’s infection, BCPS had contacted the Piedmont Health District, which recommended a deep cleaning that follows guidelines from the CDC.

Following this recommendation, Snead said the BCPS custodial company, GSA Services Group, performed a deep cleaning under guidelines developed by the CDC. No other cases have been confirmed at the BCPS, Snead said.

“These are difficult situations, and I understand everyone being concerned, and we’re all concerned to make sure that we move through this properly,” Snead said. “But I believe if we’re to look hard, the good news is there have been no other confirmed cases.”

“Where we might be able to have some sense of concern is if we had case two, case three, case four — then we might be more alarmed. But the fact (is) that we had this one case now that was reported to us. We don’t know really where the origin was. I feel like the schools have done a great job because there are no reported cases,” Snead said.

Snead said, “It’s important to note that there have been several layers of experts, including nurses and the Virginia Department of Health, with whom we’ve collaborated and with whom are charged (the responsibility) to monitor any possible situations. At this point in our collaboration, there is nothing that suggests a letter needs to go home.”

Garcia said her son, who she asked not be named, was hospitalized at Centra Southside Community Hospital for nearly a week in September and was quarantined for three weeks.

She said her son had missed nearly 50 days of school since September.

Garcia said once an individual is infected with C-diff, the bacteria stays with the individual, and it is possible to become re-infected.

Garcia said in a phone interview that she notified BCPS of the diagnosis after her son’s hospitalization with the disease in September. However, she said it was not until she had called the area health department regarding the diagnosis that the department in turn notified BCPS about guidelines to prevent the spread of the disease.

“My goal is to let parents of our community know what’s going on, because the school’s not doing it,” Garcia said.

Her son was hospitalized a second time in October after the disease had resurfaced. Garcia said doctors told her they had not seen two C-diff infections develop so closely together.

“It’s been a difficult situation to get any type of resolution, and my son is the one suffering emotionally and also with his health, and now he can’t go back to school,” Garcia said.