Mother warns other parents about MRSA
By Elizabeth Cook
It started as a red bump on her daughter’s arm, like a mosquito bite.
The next day the bump filled with pus, and soon more bumps popped up on the 8-year-old’s arms and leg.
Now the mother of a Hurley Elementary School student wants to warn other parents to seek treatment for their children if similar signs surface. Her daughter has MRSA.
That’s Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a skin infection that can be passed easily through skin contact, cuts and contaminated surfaces.
The mother doesn’t know how her daughter came into contact with the bacteria, and she has kept the girl out of school since the diagnosis to treat the infection and avoid its spread. But she believes parents need a reminder about what to look for and how to prevent infection.
“It spreads so quick,” she says.
The woman asks to remain anonymous. But school officials confirm the case at Hurley ó the first diagnosed case they’ve heard of among Rowan-Salisbury students so far this school year.
The schools are not required to report MRSA cases, according to Rita Foil, the system’s public information officer.
“State law requires that school systems provide information to students, parents and staff about MRSA,” Foil says. That information can be found in the Student-Parent Handbook and Code of Conduct.
More than 90,000 serious MRSA cases are reported in the country each year, with most arising from hospital situations. The elderly are the most vulnerable to the infection. MRSA is sometimes called a “super bug” because it resists some antibiotics.
In recent years, MRSA infections in people not considered high-risk have increased. In school settings, athletes who share equipment and come into physical contact run the highest risk of picking up the bacteria.
“All our athletic directors are trained in the area of MRSA and instructed to take this information back to their school coaches,” Foil says.
Though MRSA is seldom life-threatening for young people, it can disrupt a household, says the mother of the Hurley student.
She took her daughter to the hospital emergency room after pus appeared in the first bump and saw her family doctor afterwards. In both cases, physicians cut and drained the sores. The doctors prescribed the antibiotic Bactrim.
When they got home, the mother set to the task of washing clothes, bedding and every surface of the house.
“You have to sanitize everything,” she says. She stayed out of work to clean her daughter’s skin and change bandages three or four times a day.
The mother washes her own hands repeatedly with Hibiclens, an antimicrobial, antiseptic skin cleanser often used to prevent the spread of MRSA.
Most community MRSA infections are skin infections that appear as pustules or boils which are often red, swollen, painful or have pus or other drainage.
Almost all such infections can be effectively treated by draining, with or without antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC gives these tips to protect yourself from getting MRSA:
– Practice good hygiene. Keeping hands clean by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and showering immediately after participating in exercise.
– Cover skin trauma such as abrasions or cuts with a clean dry bandage until healed.
– Avoid sharing personal items such as towels and razors that come into contact with your bare skin. Use a barrier (clothing or a towel) between your skin and shared equipment such as weight-training benches.
– Maintain a clean environment. Establish cleaning procedures for frequently touched surfaces and surfaces that come into direct contact with people’s skin.
More information can be found at www.cdc.gov.