By BELINDA SCOTT
ANGELA Brown has had them twice, Shirley Duroux is battling her third infection, and 13-year-old Cordin Duroux has been in hospital for a fortnight having treatment for them.
A long-running outbreak of huge and acutely painful boils, targeting Aboriginal people in the Corindi/Red Rock area, has alarmed Yarrawarra Aboriginal Corporation.
Tony Perkins, the manager of Yarrawarra, said yesterday he was extremely concerned about the outbreak, which had affected up to 50 per cent of his staff as well as younger children and teenagers.
"We came across it about three months back. To our knowledge the first case was a teenager and it has ballooned from there," he said.
Mr Perkins is now looking for information on the spread of the outbreak; whether it is restricted to the Aboriginal community and what Yarrawarra can do to contain the outbreak and protect its staff.
He is wondering whether he should suspect water, food or community facilities.
"We live a semi-traditional life here and a lot of people still harvest bush foods from the beaches and the water and use native plants. I haven't heard of any non-Aboriginal people having them (boils)," he said.
Angela Brown of Red Rock still has scars on her arm from the two outbreaks of staph infection she has suffered in recent months and her son, daughter and son-in-law have all been infected.
"They look like big infected cysts," Ms Brown said.
Shirley Duroux, who lives in Grafton but works at Yarrawarra, said she was not prepared to return to work until satisfied she would not be re-infected.
Her 13-year-old son, Cordin Duroux, will leave Grafton Hospital today after being hospitalised for the past fortnight with a severe staph infection on his chin and mouth.
Ms Duroux has been unable to visit her son in hospital because she is undergoing her third successive treatment for a similar staph infection.
She said she had also seen people arriving for treatment for boils at the outpatients section of Grafton Hospital.
Dr Helen Palmer of Galambila Aboriginal Health Service said the current outbreak had also involved Coffs Harbour residents, but she regularly saw patients with skin infections.
She said good hygiene, including hand-washing after using the toilet and before eating and preparing food, was the best way to combat the spread of the infection.
Dr Palmer said a common factor in an outbreak of skin diseases in January had been that all the sufferers had swum in Coffs Creek.
A spokeswoman for the North Coast Area Health Service said population health staff were not aware of anything out of the ordinary, but had a weekly clinic at Yarrawarra and provided an education program.