MRSA infections have always been notoriously difficult to treat because of their resistance to common antibiotics. Community-acquired MRSA is particularly disturbing, since it can occur in an otherwise healthy population. Unfortunately, it appears that the number of children being diagnosed with this disease is on the rise.
Community-acquired MRSA is a major health problem and can affect entire communities. Often, colonization will lead to infection later on, so doctors watch trends in colonization patients. 27% of the subjects had a form of staph, and over 4% had the MRSA bug itself. 35% of the MRSA colonization occurred in children that were less than 5 months old. Many of the strains were resistant to common antibiotics like clindamycin, rifampin, and tetracycline.
Because the MRSA bugs are increasing their resistance to common antibiotics, doctors may soon have to revise how they treat bacterial infections. It also means that caregivers of small children have to be extra careful about how they care for infants to prevent the spread of MRSA. The first line of defense is to wash the hands frequently to prevent transmission and infection.
The study also showed that health care providers should not eliminate MRSA as a possibility even in young children. This is particularly true if the child was in the hospital in the six months prior to coming down with the infection.
To help protect your child, it is important to follow good hygiene even when at home. Community-acquired MRSA can come from a variety of sources, and children can still be at risk even if they have not been in the hospital.
Always make sure that children wash their hands properly, and shower after contact sports. Any wound should be attended to immediately, and watch for signs of infection like swelling, pus or discharge, and inflammation. Have any skin lesions that are not healing properly or that appear infected checked out by your childs doctor as soon as possible. If staph is suspected, as the doctor to run a culture to find out what antibiotics will offer the best treatment for your child.
If your child is diagnosed with MRSA, there are some precautions that you can take to protect the rest of the family. Wear gloves when changing any bandages, and make sure that all used bandages are sealed in a plastic bag before being disposed of. Have family member wash their hands both before and after interacting with the sick child. Change bedding and linens frequently and wash in hot water.
You can also become an informant on MRSA in your community. If your child is active in contact sports, that is a prime risk factor for MRSA. Make sure that the coaches and staff know how to properly care for wounds and recognize the signs of infections. Check to be sure that the players are not sharing towels and personal items, and make sure that any shared equipment is properly sanitized often. This will help promote healthy habits for not only your child but the entire team.
Image: NIAID in collaboration with Colorado State University