What Is A MRSA Infection?
When your child gets any sort of bacterial infection be it pink eye, a urinary tract infection, or an ear infection, the go-to treatment is usually a course of antibiotics. These kill off the bacteria responsible for the illness. However, some strains of bacteria are resistant to many of the usual antibiotics used. In this blog, we’ll cover one of these: MRSA. The good news is that MRSA infections in children are uncommon; however, they do occur, so it’s important to have some basic knowledge about them.
MRSA (pronounced MUR-suh) is an infection that can be difficult to treat. The word MRSA is an acronym that stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which is a type of staph bacteria. Staph bacteria, in general, is found widespread in our environment. It is commonly found on the skin and hair, but it is found in the nose and mouth as well.
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MRSA was first identified in 1961. It is the result of adaptations by staph bacteria against antibiotics, specifically against methicillin antibiotics. When people take antibiotics unnecessarily (such as for the common cold) or take antibiotics prescribed to someone else, bacteria can adapt to become resistant to antibiotics. This can also happen as a result of taking antibiotics that have been prescribed, but not taking them for the full dose.
When MRSA infections occur, they are most often acquired in a hospital setting (HA-MRSA). They can also be community acquired, also known as CA-MRSA. In children, MRSA infections can be caught at school or other places where people congregate. MRSA is spread in the community by direct contact with people or things that are carrying the bacteria. MRSA can survive on some surfaces like towels, razors, furniture, and athletic equipment for hours, days, or even weeks.
What are some signs your child may have a MRSA infection? Since MRSA is a type of staph infection, the symptoms are the same and usually include the skin. It sometimes starts off as a raised red bump on the skin that may be warm to the touch. A MRSA infection can also develop around an open wound. Fever may accompany the infection. A rare complication is pneumonia or the bacteria getting into the bloodstream..
With MRSA, the bacteria is resistant to certain antibiotics but can still be treated by other antibiotics not within the methicillin family. If the infection is severe or has reached the blood, IV antibiotics may be necessary.
As with many other illnesses, your first (and perhaps most important) line of defense is to wash both your own and your children’s hands often. If your child has any cuts or scrapes, ensure they are always covered with a fresh, clean bandage until the injury scabs over. Remind older kids who play sports or may use a gym shower not to share towels, uniforms, or anything that comes in contact with others’ skin and to make sure that gym equipment is routinely cleaned.
If you suspect your child may have an infection, MRSA or otherwise, have him or her seen by their pediatrician or local pediatric urgent care. Tests can be done to determine the exact type of bacteria responsible for the infection so appropriate treatment can be prescribed. If you’re in the Greater Los Angeles area, stop in to MVP Pediatric and Urgent Care or schedule a convenient appointment through our online system.