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0 Comments | May 23, 2011

MRSA and Children

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I
n the last twenty years, MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, has become more and more common, particularly among people who have weakened immune systems, such as the elderly and the very young. MRSA is a particularly dangerous Staph infection, a common skin infection; it is resistant to most commonly-prescribed antibiotics and can move with lethal speed. Many people carry these dangerous bacteria unknowingly on their skin or even in their noses, but it doesn’t usually create an infection unless you’ve got some kind of break in your skin. A scratch, a minor lesion, or even an insect bite can provide a portal for MRSA. While MRSA is usually thought to be found in hospitals or nursing homes, it’s becoming more common among otherwise healthy people out and about in the community–particularly in daycare situations, or in schools. Athletes who participate in competitive or contact sports are also more at risk. Children are particularly susceptible to MRSA due to their often cavalier attitude to personal hygiene as well as their tendency to share personal items. Very young children, such as infants and toddlers, are often immune-compromised and thus in danger of contracting this dangerous disease.

There are MRSA treatments, particularly if it’s caught early. Any skin condition should be examined immediately by your pediatrician, and treated as required. Often a MRSA-related skin condition can be excised and drained as needed. However, many physicians suggest starting with traditional antibiotics, and if the infection is not responding in a timely fashion, changing your child’s medication to one of the antibiotics that are known to defeat MRSA infections. It’s theorized that overusing the antibiotics that are effective in fighting MRSA will result in the disease developing resistance to these antibiotics, leaving no viable treatment. But, if your child has any risk factors for MRSA such as a prior hospitalization within the last six months, daycare attendance, or a chronic underlying disease, your physician might decide to treat a skin infection more aggressively from the start.

It’s important to emphasize the importance of good hygiene to your children. Encourage your kids to thoroughly wash their hands with soap and warm water throughout the day, and kids who participate in athletics should shower and wash themselves thoroughly with soap after any practice. Keep tabs on all abrasions and cuts clean and covered with sterile bandages until they are completely healed. Avoid all contact with other people’s wounds, and encourage your children to do the same. Also, be wary of objects that are potentially contaminated by open wounds, such as towels, sports equipment, and clothing.

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