MRSA Epidemic Growing At Alarming Levels

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A new analysis reveals what researchers call an "alarming" increase of MRSA infections in children. According to Steven E. Sobol, MD, MSc, primary investigator of the study and director of Pediatric Otolaryngology in the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at Emory, the study was initiated in response to a "growing concern about the recent worldwide MRSA epidemic."

According to Dr. Sobol, the incidence of MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) has been widely identified in the community, primarily producing infections of the skin and soft tissue. He explains, "However, it has been observed in several institutions that there is a significant rise in pediatric head and neck infections as well."

The Emory University team analyzed the records of 21,009 children with staphylococcus aureus infections (commonly called staph infection), of the head and neck, from 300 hospitals nationwide. The infections occurred between Jan. 1, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2006 among children from birth to 18 years of age.

Over a period of six years, the researchers discovered an alarming rise in the number of staph infections among children, involving the ears, that were methicillin resistant (MRSA) – the rate of head and neck infections in children as the result of MRSA rose between 2001 and 2006 from 12% to 28% respectively. The study also found a high occurrence of MRSA in the North East Central region of the United States. The average age of the children studied was 6.7 years of age, and those affected were primarily boys (51.7%).


According to Dr. Sobol, "There is a nationwide increase in the prevalence of MRSA in children with head and neck infections that is alarming. Clinicians must use antibiotic agents judiciously in order to reduce further antimicrobial drug resistance."

The researchers say there is a need for even more studies to help gain insight regarding MRSA, along with a focus on testing for the bacteria.

The study represented a 16% increase in MRSA infections of the head and neck among children with staph aureus infections.

The study authors concluded, "There is an alarming nationwide increase in the prevalence of …methicillin-resistant S aureus [MRSA] head and neck infections" among children.

Nationwide Trends in Pediatric Staphylococcus aureus Head and Neck Infections


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