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B. cereus Outbreak Caused Scalp Infections in Cadets

CDC report urges military programs to adopt improved infection-control practices

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MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Primary cutaneous disease attributed to Bacillus cereus rarely occurs in immunocompetent persons or in nonhealth-care settings, but an outbreak of the disease occurred among healthy cadets enrolled in a Georgia military program, according to a report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their Dec. 9 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In 2004, 94 (14%) of 660 military cadets developed nonpruritic, impetigo-like scalp lesions during freshman military orientation week. Doctors found that B. cereus was the common organism among the three patients whose lesions were cultured. The Georgia Division of Public Health (GDPH) conducted an investigation to determine the source of the infections, identify associated risk factors and implement control measures.

The GDPH's recommendations for reducing the risk of another outbreak during future orientations included changing the type of haircut required for male cadets to allow for more hair and less injury to the scalp, allowing adequate time for personal hygiene, distributing individual packets of sunscreen and discouraging the sharing of sunscreen.

The recommendations were implemented during the 2005 orientation activities, and no skin infections were reported.

"University military programs should establish infection-control practices including good hygiene as part of their organized orientation events," the authors conclude.

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