This flu season, MRSA treatment recommended for kids with serious respiratory infection
Doctors seeing children presenting with serious lower respiratory tract infections during this flu season are urged by researchers to give the MRSA antibiotic. The researchers base their request on a recently released study demonstrating that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection with the influenza virus is a deadly combination that resulted in numerous deaths of children during the 2009 flu season.
This week, researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston published their findings in an article in the medical journal Pediatrics their discovery that simultaneous co-infection of the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) with the flu virus increased the risk of previously healthy children succumbing to flu-related mortality by 8-fold.
MRSA infection alone is typically treated successfully with the antibiotic vancomycin. However, in the study, the researchers found that co-infection with the flu virus developed into unexpected complications and death where antibiotic treatment was too often unsuccessful.
"There's more risk for MRSA to become invasive in the presence of flu or other viruses," says study leader Adrienne Randolph, MD at Children's Hospital Boston. "These deaths in co-infected children are a warning sign."
The most surprising find was that while children with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma or compromised immune systems are known to be particularly susceptible, up to 30 percent of those co-infected in the study were previously healthy. "It is not common in the U.S. to lose a previously healthy child to pneumonia," says Randolph.
"Unfortunately, these children had necrotizing pneumonia – eating away at their tissue and killing off whole areas of the lung. They looked like immunocompromised patients in the way MRSA went through their body. It's not that flu alone can't kill – it can – but in most cases children with flu alone survived."
In a press release about the study, it is stated that the researchers of the study are now urging doctors who are presented with children with serious lower respiratory tract infections during this flu season to give the MRSA antibiotic and to start antiviral therapy early.
Often, when a child is taken to the emergency room, either the child has not had a flu shot or it is unclear as to whether or not the child has already been a given a flu shot for the current flu season; therefore, a prophylactic shot is recommended. The difference, however, is that now an antibiotic shot is also indicted in case of MRSA infection that could develop in the already weakened lungs—even before MRSA infections are confirmed in the lab as previously done before state the researchers.
The rise and prevalence of antibiotic resistant strains of organisms such as MRSA is attributed to our past history of over-treating patients who enter clinics with signs and symptoms of the flu. Too often, they were given prophylactic doses of antibiotics “just in case” the symptoms were bacteria-induced rather than viral.
Doctors are now being urged to consider giving children a MRSA antibiotic if they present with signs and symptoms of a serious lower respiratory tract infection. Even more reason, now than ever, for even the healthiest of us to finally decide to get that flu shot we’ve skipped every year. Parents are urged to get their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, given the potential for community acquired MRSA co-infection.
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