MRSA On The Rise Among Children

Hospitalized children colonized with MRSA have a very real risk for invasive infections, both while in the hospital and once they leave, so mitigating this risk is a serious priority – Dr. Aaron Milstone

The antibiotic resistant bacteria known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is on the rise and children are at high risk for contracting skin infections that could develop into life threatening cases.  In a 2007 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was shown that 95,000 people had developed serious MRSA infections and that nearly 19,000 died. The rate of hospitalization among children due to skin infections has more than doubled since 2000.  Hospitalized children who carry MRSA and yet show no signs of ill health are indeed still at risk for developing full-blown MRSA infections.

A study conducted between 2007 and 2010 at John Hopkins Children’s Centre found that children carrying MRSA were six times more likely to develop serious infections after they were discharged in comparison with their non-carrier counterparts, and eight times more likely to develop invasive MRSA infections while still in the hospital. The study also found that children that had been prescribed four courses of antibiotics prior to being treated were 18 times more likely to be diagnosed with MRSA than children that had not been prescribed antibiotics. These statistics suggest that the misuse and overuse of antibiotics are placing children at higher risk of developing serious MRSA infections.

Children’s weaker immune systems have them at risk for contracting MRSA and in turn very serious infections.  Time Magazine provides five helpful points that parents should be aware of for preventative measures and treatment knowledge.

1. The Initial Stages May Appear minor – The site of the skin infection can start out looking like a small pimple or bug bite.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have compiled visual images of what MRSA infections look like.

2. Infection can Advance at a Rapid Pace – Site can potentially become much larger and serious within hours.

3. Transmission is common among Young Athletes – Athletes not only share equipment but sustain bruises and open sores in high-contacts sports.  These wounds act as possible gateways for contracting skin infections.  National Athletic Trainer’s Association only admit an athlete who has acquired a skin infection back into the sport if they have undergone 72 hour antibiotic therapy that completely drains the infection.

4. The First Measure to Combat Skin Infection is not Always Against MRSA Bacteria – Depending on communities dealing with regular outbreaks and those with the rare case, pediatricians may choose other medications that are not targeted specifically towards the MRSA germ.

5. Bleach Baths and Proper Cleaning Reduce Its Spread – ISDA has provided a proper recipe for helpful bleach baths for those suffering from a skin infection.  The site of infection should be bandaged and specific cleaning products should be used to clean surfaces that may have come into contact with the site.

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