Oct 30, 2013

Dr. Cindy Gellner: It's been around for a long time, and now it's on the rise. It's in your community. It's infecting your kids. It's called MRSA and it's nasty. I'll tell you about it next. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

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Dr. Cindy Gellner: So MRSA is a type of staph infection. Staphylococcus aureus is found on your skin. And normally, there's lots of different types of staph, and normally they're really happy and they don't bother us and they actually can be beneficial.
However, there is an increasing type of bad staph aureus and it's called MRSA. It stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Methicillin is the name of the antibiotic that the bacteria is able to fight.
In MRSA, the staph bacteria are tricky. They know how to avoid being killed by the particular antibiotic, and so it's really difficult to treat in a lot of cases. It is a significant problem and it is increasing among kids.
This used to be what you called a "hospital acquired staph infection". It was only people who were hospitalized, like long-term hospitalizations, in bed, bed sores, things like that, and then we were seeing it if people were just going in for a couple days, and then we started seeing it in the community in adults, and now we see it in kids.
The biggest kids that are at risk are those that are under three months old, and actually we don't know exactly why but African American kids seem to be at the highest risk for getting MRSA as well.
MRSA, quite often when I see it, is a parent that brings their child in thinking that their child got bitten by a spider. It shows up like a little pimple and it's got a little red ring around it, like a red base, a pimple on a red base, and they say, "It just showed up." Then they'll say, "Yesterday it looked like a pimple and today it's this big puss ball, what is going on?"
And they're like, "This spider is really bad." And I'm like, "It's not a spider bite." Unfortunately, the treatment is that we actually have to drain it. That big puss ball is called an abscess, and it's actually one you need to get the puss out of it in order to treat.
Depending on how big that ball of puss is determines how we can get it out. Sometimes we can just take a needle and poke it and sometimes you actually have to have someone cut that area in, drain everything, clean it really well and do what is called packing, and that is where you actually put gauze in and you clean it out and you have to come back for wound changes, and keep that area really clean.
Unfortunately, MRSA is not always cured with just one time. We do have antibiotics that are good at killing MRSA, but sometimes MRSA comes back. And in those cases, we usually recommend what are called bleach baths, and that is when we have a recipe for how much bleach you put in the bathtub with your child and you actually do bleach baths with the child.
It's going to be bleach and water. So it's really dilute, it's not going to hurt your child's skin. And that actually is going to kill and sanitize the skin. There's other things that you can use. There's a soap called Hibiclens, and that you can actually buy over the counter and that will help kill any of the bad staph that is on the skin.
Finally, there's antibiotics. There's one antibiotic and the trade name is Septra, the generic name is Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, which is why we call is Septra. And that is one that MRSA has not figured out how to be resistant to yet, and that is the one that we usually will give to kids. If we find that the MRSA starts being resistant to that, we are in big trouble.
Another thing is MRSA often lives, the staph bacteria often live in the nose. And so a lot of people who put their fingers where they are not supposed to will actually get the bacteria on their fingers, scratch their skin, and when they break the barrier on the skin the bacteria climbs under the skin and causes those puss balls that we were talking about.
There's an antibiotic called Bactroban, Mupirocin. And what we do is we tell people how to put it up their nose for an extended period of time and that will help kill the MRSA, because the nose is where MRSA like to live. So if you kill it at the source, there's going to be less of a chance that you will have other skin infections with it and you're going to transfer it to other people less.
MRSA is one that we normally had contained nice in a hospital and now it's out in the community, so the very fact that it is spreading across all ages, all areas, not just a hospital is concerning. It's getting smarter.
It's one of the super bugs that we start worrying about, where we're like "Okay, it's resistant to this antibiotic now, when is it going to be resistant to this one, when is it going to be resistant to this one, when are we going to run out of antibiotics that are going to be able to take care of MRSA?" And the fact that it's starting to show up more and more in kids is really concerning.
Your kids can start spreading it in schools, in daycares, and around other family members and so it's really concerning cause it is a serious infection. Sometimes it required multiple antibiotics and you need to have surgery to drain the abscesses sometimes.
The most important thing is, as a parent, if you see an unusual rash on your child, if they have fevers, if they are starting to look like they have these big puss balls, which are not normal on children, you need to get them into the doctor right away. Don't want and say, "Well maybe it will go away tomorrow." It won't, it will get worse.
The other thing is making sure you clean your hands. That is the biggest way of spreading everything is dirty hands. Wash your hands. How many times did you hear your mother say that? Wash your hands. I'm saying it again. Wash your hands.
Don't forget, it's not just kids that get this. Adults get it too and adults, parents, can transfer it to their own children. So, that's really important. If you have any symptoms like that, be sure you see your doctor as well so you can get treated as well.

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