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MRSA A Rising Trend in American Children

Jan 20, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP We have long been reporting on the dramatic rise of the multi-drug resistant staph infection commonly referred to as MRSA.  Now, MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is making headlines across media outlets because of how the deadly disease is attacking young children in this country.

Newsday reports that drug resistant head-and-neck infections are increasing among children, attributing the trend to MRSA traveling through communities, something that has become commonplace, but was considered quite rare in the recent past.  Based on current analysis, scientists pointed to the rising trend of MRSA attacking children with head and neck infections, stating that a particularly concerning doubling of cases occurred between 2001 and 2006, from 12-to-28 percent.  The team reviewed thousands of cases, confirming what reports have long been revealing:  MRSA is increasingly showing up in communities, said Newsday.  Dr. Iman Naseri of Emory University looked at nationwide medical records from 300 hospitals for 21,009 MRSA infections in children, specifically in their throats, noses, and ears.

MRSA is passed via health care workers and equipment and is best known for its ability to fight off the effects of a growing array of antibiotics.  A little over two decades ago, the deadly infection was a predominantly hospital-acquired, affecting patients who were over-medicated with antibiotics, Newsday explained.  Dr. Aaron Glatt, president and chief executive of New Island Hospital in Bethpage and Infectious Diseases Society of America spokesman, said doctors have recently seen a marked rise in MRSA, specifically in communities, which, he said, reported Newsday, calls for better hygiene practices, specifically citing frequent hand washing.  “It's not surprising at all that we are seeing more and more MRSA in communities, and when you see it more in communities, there will be more cases in kids, too," added Glatt.

The team added that "The data presented in this study corroborate with other regional data, specifically demonstrating an increasing trend of MRSA prevalence in all regions of the U.S.,” said MedPageToday.  The researchers found that 47 percent of MRSA cases in testing were clindamycin-resisitant, as well.

Study authors called for, "Judicious use of antibiotic agents and increased effectiveness in diagnosis and treatment” in order “to reduce further … drug resistance” in children, said Medical News Today.  "We certainly found that the emergence of resistant staph head and neck infections in pediatric settings is on the rise," said study co-author Dr. Steven E. Sobol, director of the department of pediatric otolaryngology at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, reported the Washington Post.

"MRSA doesn't cause a worse infection; it makes treatment options fewer….  In children you are more limited, you can't use the tetracyclines," said Glatt, quoted Newsday.  Glatt explained that tetracyclines cause teeth yellowing and affect bone development.

MRSA now has two main strains, the traditional, hospital-acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA), which, said eFluxMedia, is more dangerous due to its overwhelming antibiotic resistance; community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) stems from strain ST8:USA300 and, while more potent, is a bit easier to treat, often not needing antibiotic therapy.  eFluxMedia reported that the majority of head-and-neck MRSA infections—60 percent—were CA-MRSA and occurred in the children’s ears.

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