September 10, 2007 - Doctors in south Texas are seeing the potentially deadly staph infection known as Community Acquired-Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (CA-MRSA) emerging in epidemic proportions in children.
South Texas was one of the first regions of the country to experience CA-MRSA and has since become a hot bed for the infection.
"We've seen that MRSA working in the community is much more virulent," said Jaime Fergie, M.D., Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi, TX.
In the past, MRSA was well known as an infection acquired in healthcare facilities or nursing homes. Today, the contagious "superbug" is stronger and it's in the community.
Some severely infected children are requiring multiple surgeries including orthopedic, cardiothoracic, and drainage procedures to get rid of the infection. Fortunately, most infections are easy to treat with a simple incision and drainage, and use of stronger antibiotics. The New England Journal of Medicine states MRSA is the most common identifiable cause of skin and soft-tissue infections in emergency rooms nationwide.
Commonly referred to as "community staph," the infection's bacterium enters the body through skin wounds and appears as a boil or abscess sometimes mimicking a spider bite. It can also invade the blood stream infecting bones, joints, muscles, and lungs. Most children present with skin and soft tissue infections, but some develop life-threatening conditions, and a few have died.
Dr. Fergie, a leading international expert on CA-MRSA, has been studying MRSA and CA-MRSA comprehensively for 13 years. Based on his research conducted at Driscoll, he has seen a significant spike in the number of patients with community staph and its severity.
Dr. Fergie, and Kevin Purcell, M.D., co-authored a 2004 study, which indicated the rate of patients with CA-MRSA increased from five per 10,000 patients in 1999, to 360 per 10,000 in 2004. Additionally, 628 cases were identified in 2006 and, to date, 281 cases in 2007.
"Although potentially deadly, CA-MRSA can easily be prevented by diligent hand washing and good hygiene," Dr. Fergie said. "Parents need to know what the symptoms are so it can be caught and treated early."
For more information: www.driscollchildrens.org