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MRSA Infections Increasing in Children


In a nationwide study, the number of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) were found to have increased at an alarming rate. Many of these are ear, nose, sinus and throat infections. The throat infections include abscesses that can form in the tonsils.

The first outbreaks of MRSA were reported in the 1960s and were considered rare. Today, MRSA accounts for 50-70% of all Staph aureus isolates,.

Before the 1980s, MRSA infections were acquired primarily through hospital or nosocomial transmission. Over the past decade, MRSA outbreaks have become more common in prisons, in nursing homes, team sports, and in chronically ill patients. These are considered "community-acquired" MRSA (CA-MRSA) infections. They have become increasingly prevalent in patients without established risk factors, and they remain a major public health concern.

The study found a total of 21,009 pediatric head and neck infections caused by staph germs from 2001 through 2006. The number of infections caused by MRSA bacteria more than doubled during that time from almost 12 percent to 28 percent. Almost 60 percent of the MRSA infections found in the study were thought to be community acquired.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, can cause dangerous, life-threatening invasive infections. Doctors believe inappropriate use of antibiotics is the main reason for the increase in antibiotic resistant infections.

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MRSA does not respond to penicillin-based antibiotics. There is evidence that the bacteria is becoming resistant to other antibiotics.

Personal Preventive Measures Include

Personal hygiene

* Shower daily
* Wash hands frequently
* Keep wounds covered
* Avoid contact with wound drainage

Environmental control

* Clean shared equipment (e.g., athletic equipment)
* Clean contaminated surfaces
* Use a barrier to bare skin when in contact with shared

Nationwide Trends in Pediatric Staphylococcus aureus Head and Neck Infections; Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009;135(1):14-16; Iman Naseri, MD; Robert C. Jerris, PhD; Steven E. Sobol, MD, MSc
Center for Disease Control and Prevention