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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

MRSA "Superbug" - Hype or Hazard?

By October 17, 2007

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MRSAMRSA, which is an is an acronym for methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that has become resistant to many antibiotics, is in the news again. Many parents have likely seen the recent news reports that MRSA is now killing more people than AIDS.

Is that simply "news hype" or do parents have something to worry about? Unfortunately, it is a little of both.

Although MRSA is becoming more common, causing simple skin infections, abscesses, and more serious infections, unlike many news reports that say it is "invulnerable" (The Dallas Morning News) or that it "does not respond to treatment with common antibiotics" (Chicago Tribune), it fortunately does usually respond to the common antibiotics clindamycin or bactrim.

So while MRSA can be dangerous and deadly and you should learn more about how to prevent this staph infection, you don't necessarily need to be overly worried if your pediatrician says that your child has a mild MRSA infection. This "superbug" can usually still be treated, especially in healthy children with mild infections. Of course, you should see your pediatrician if your child has an infection that is getting worse or isn't going away, just in case it is a more serious MRSA infection.

Photo Vincent Iannelli, MD

October 18, 2007 at 12:37 am
(1) Debra Morrison says:

My then four year old son was treated for MRSA in North Carolina two years ago. Is it something that can subside, lie dormant then reappear later in life? Are there tests to determine if traces of it remain present?

October 18, 2007 at 8:03 am
(2) Vincent Iannelli, MD says:

Many people become carriers for staph, including MRSA, and the bacteria can just live in your child’s nose or even on his skin, but not causing any problems. And then one day if he gets a cut or insect bite, it would get in the wound and cause an infection again. Those kids usually get infections fairly frequently though, like every few weeks or months, and wouldn’t usually go two years without and infection.

The only test to see if a trace of the bacteria remains would be to do a swab in the child’s nose to see if the MRSA bacteria grows on a culture, which might mean that he was colonized. But that is usually only done if he or a family member were getting infections over and over.

October 19, 2007 at 12:19 am
(3) holden says:

thank you people for telling me what i can do for it but i thank i have it and my mom saids she dosent thank i do but it looks like a pimple or a bump and dose it ich sometimes and burn and hurt. please send her an e-mail to tell her how deadly it can be and to take me to the drs shes not a bad mom by no means o ya im only 14 heres her name e-mail addres

name:babette taylor e-mail:xilikeit2x@yahoo.com

thank a bunch u guys are the best lets stay tallking back and forth for as long as we can so u can tell me the new suff about marsa love your friend holden taylor please wright back!!!!!

October 22, 2007 at 11:18 pm
(4) okramom says:

My 6 year old has had boils on and off for about a year now. Prior to that, my youngest son did the same thing, and one day they just stopped. I have recently made an appointment with an pediatric infectious disease specialist to take a look at the oldest one after having upwards of 15 boils break out at one time on his legs. It hurt him to walk they were so bad… at that point the ped. we saw did a culture and it was MRSA. Should I be concerned with the upcoming flu season? Are there any extra precautions we can take? And should I have my youngest tested to make sure he’s not a carrier? If he is, what can be done?

October 24, 2007 at 10:02 pm
(5) Vincent Iannelli, MD says:

I have recently made an appointment with an pediatric infectious disease specialist

To get rid of staph colonization, it can sometimes help to treat all family members with mupirocin (Bactroban) nasal gel twice a day for 5-7 days, weekly Hibiclens (an Antiseptic, Antimicrobial Skin Cleanser) baths, and encourage very frequent handwashing. The pediatric infectious disease specialist will likely have some good ideas for you and your family.

October 25, 2007 at 1:52 pm
(6) lutimo says:

Tea tree oil has shown itself more effective than pharmaceutical skin preparations in treating Staphylococcus aureus skin sores.

October 25, 2007 at 5:39 pm
(7) okramom says:

Thank you so much. I will ask about the nasal treatment. We’ve been using the Hibiclens weekly for about a month now. It is a VERY hard thing to get rid of and VERY frustrating to deal with. When you know that you’re doing EVERYTHING the doctors have said to do and the boils still return. I’m praying we will get more answers at our appointment in a couple of weeks. Again, thank you.

October 30, 2007 at 3:22 pm
(8) Michelle says:

I am not a child, I am a single mom that caught this. I don’t know how but, it is located right at my adams apple in my throat. I had to go to child support court with my neck swollen, luckily that day I schedule a doctors visit for a regular check up. I ask for her to look at my neck and tell me why was I running such a high fever, and I explained to her that on Tuesday it felt like a pimple that would not come to a head, then on Wednesday I had a double chin going on. By Thurday it had my whole face swollen, fever, the fever was even making my eyes bloodshot. Next thing I knew the doctor came in with a medicine for me to take. It started off with two antibiotics, now I am on three. The specialist (great doctor), he told me if this doesn’t cure or heal up, the IV will be placed in me,or I will have to go to the operating table. Scared, yes indeed!

November 18, 2007 at 12:42 am
(9) Kim says:

Dr. Could I get this from the birth parents of a baby just by contact w/the infant & his car seat?

Please email an answer to me.
Thank you!

September 23, 2008 at 8:43 am
(10) Sue says:

I have a friend who has had a MRSA infection three times in about 4 months. She was hospitalized at one point. The doctors are now testing her to see if she is a carrier. Our daughters are best friends and I am scared to let my child spend the night. Are my fears warranted? She coaches cheerleading, ballet and is a substitute teacher. Is it safe for the children?

October 30, 2009 at 10:37 am
(11) Kim says:

My 22 yr old son has MRSA. Just since this summer he’s been coming over and staying frequently, bathing and such. He’s told me what he needs to do for himself, and for the safety of his 14 and 13 yr old sisters. We did best we could.Now the 14 yr old has had 3 boils break out. One one day, another 3 days later. And they went away, now another boil. All 3 on the same leg, like right in a row going down her leg. My husband is furious (the boys step-dad). He’s worried about scarring to this daughter, her ability to some day in the far future for a healthy relationship with a young man because of this, and so on. Was I suppose to not let my son come and stay with us? Did she get it from him? Possibly. She’s not been tested yet, because when the pustule breaks, she’s either at school, or extra-cirricular event, of when the doctor isn’t in, or the weekend. They want to swab the area, and they have more questions for me, and I feel I have more knowledge than they do about this. She is a volunteer in our local hospital in the birthing center, can she still be? Do we inform them and have her ostrasized? What about kids she babysits? What about school? Does she need to tell prospective boyfriends in the future, or even now with just someone she hugs once in a while, including her girlfriends. I do not want her feeling like a leper. I don’t want my husband mad about this. I’m so frustrated about this. Should all of us have nasal swabs? Including my grown children. I remember years ago, my children kept getting strep throat, except one out of 6 kids. I took ALL of them in for a the throat swab, and guess what, the one who did not get sick tested out to have some sort of germ which made her a carrier who needed antibiotics. Could this be something similar? Oh well….thanks

April 12, 2010 at 6:51 pm
(12) vicki says:

is there any dr.that i can see or talk to ,i have mrsa i have had it for 12 yrs. and it is getting worse everyday and making me sick i have been put in hospital. now i wont go back i know this is where i got it and I NEED HELP any one who has or gets this .needs to do anything they can to NOT spead it to any one eles. it is very painful .alot of people dont know how painful it is well i will say it hurts so bad I cry almost everyday viki

July 7, 2010 at 2:46 pm
(13) Tasha Neitzel says:

My seven month old son has mrsa on his face will it leave a scar?

April 24, 2012 at 8:10 am
(14) Anya Arthur says:

Really enjoyed this article.Really thank you! Much obliged.

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