HEALTH TOPICS TREATMENT TIPS
|MRSA INFECTION Recently there has been much publicity in the media and medical community on a "hard-to-treat" bacterium called Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA for short. MRSA is not a new bacterium, but rather is a resistant strain of common bacteria found all around us, particularly in the nose or anywhere on the skin. As antibiotic use increases, many bacteria require higher and higher doses to be effective, gradually causing resistance to certain antibiotics. MRSA is more difficult to treat because it is resistant to some common antibiotics such as Amoxicillin and Augmentin. It can be treated quite well however using other classes of antibiotics.
The majority of MRSA infections are skin infections. Once any skin infection is diagnosed, we typically prescribe either topical or oral antibiotics. Close follow-up care is the key to successful treatment. Within the first 24 hours the infection should stop spreading and within 48 hours it should start to improve in appearance. Complete resolution may take a week or more. If the infection continues to spread after starting antibiotics, the child must be rechecked promptly. We may switch antibiotics to one more effective against MRSA, such as Bactrim or Clindamycin. In rare cases we may admit a child to the hospital for IV antibiotics to ensure eradication of the infection.
As with many problems in pediatrics, prevention is critical. MRSA skin infections are not spread through the air, but by skin-to-skin contact or by direct contact with an infected wound or contaminated surface. Many infections including MRSA can be prevented or minimized with frequent hand washing. Alcohol based cleaning products such as Purelle can stop the spread of bacteria from contaminated surfaces and infected individuals. Remind 'tweens' and teens to clean all athletic equipment appropriately between uses and not to share personal items such as towels or razors. Cuts and breaks in the skin should be covered with topical antibacterial cream and a clean bandage.