EXCLUSIVE: 8 Kalaheo High football players reported staph-like infections

EXCLUSIVE: Eight Kalaheo High football players reported staph-like infections
Chris Akana
Chris Akana
Dawn Petroziello
Dawn Petroziello
John Chung
John Chung

KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Eight football players from Kalaheo High School in Kailua came down with staph-like infections and then a few days after Kalaheo played Roosevelt High School, two Roosevelt players reported staph-like symptoms.  But school officials said they don't believe the Kalaheo students spread their infections to Roosevelt.

Hawaii News Now discovered one faculty member at Kalaheo has been complaining for years about a lack of protocol in keeping the school's weight room sanitary.

Kalaheo High School Principal Susan Hummel said eight football players reported some type of infection that may have been staph earlier this month.

She said the football players and were not allowed to return to practice or games until they were cleared by doctors.

"As soon as one case came to their attention, they disinfected and sprayed the locker room and all football equipment, including helmets and pads," Hummel told us today.

She said the recent unusually hot and humid weather may have helped to spread the infections on the football team, since staph grows on warm and humid surfaces.

Kalaheo High physical education teacher Chris Akana isn't surprised about the outbreak.

"The safety of the students is being compromised right now," Akana told Hawaii News Now Wednesday night.

He's been complaining for three years about the dirty conditions in the Kalaheo weight room, where he teaches weight training and body conditioning.

"No disinfectant that's being used, no training protocols as far as cleaning the area," Akana said.  He said a janitor was finally given a key to the weight room this school year.

"As a teacher teaching weight training, it's very difficult when I don't feel comfortable taking the students into the weight room because basic safety procedures aren't established at the school," said Akana, who has sometimes kept his students in the classroom instead of using the dirty weight room.

Since August 10, Akana said he's emailed Hummel and other school administrators photos of sweaty weight room benches that had not been wiped down and disinfected properly.

"I would like open communication.  Sometimes things that were brought up in emails were just ignored," Akana said.

Dawn Petroziello, a physician assistant from The Medical Corner in Kailua, said it's important to use antiseptic cleaners in locker and weight rooms.

"Spray down whatever they have just sweated on or used.  Make sure they spray it down, wipe it dry and let the next guy use it.  That will reduce the risk," Petroziello said.

At Roosevelt High School, two football players showed up Monday with staph-like symptoms , so the school went into a massive disinfection process with football gear and more.

"We laid it out on the track and we disinfected all the pads, we went into the locker room, shot the whole locker room with disinfectant and we also shot the field down as a precaution," said John Chung, Roosevelt's athletic director.

Roosevelt played Kalaheo Friday night at Kailua High School, raising concerns the Kalaheo students may have spread their infections to the Roosevelt players. But Hummel said Kalaheo's players with infections had all been cleared by doctors to play in that game.

Petroziello, the physician assistant, said young athletes need constant reminders about keeping clean, especially football players who are in contact with each other on the field, often scraping themselves and hitting the ground hard.

For student athletes, Petoziello recommended:"Making sure you're cleaning your uniforms, you're showering on a regular basis.  If you're sweating really badly and you're getting in the dirt, shower twice if you have to. Just practice good hygiene."

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