Hey parents – if you don’t want your kid to be one of the 20,000 people who die this year because of an infection, you need to hear this. Now, I’m not talking about a paper cut getting slightly inflamed. I’m talking about the superbug MRSA. As we’ve mentioned before, MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It’s a bacterial infection that strikes more than 100,000 North Americans every year – and 20,000 of those people die. For those who survive, many suffer severe organ damage, need to get a limb amputated - or both.
According to Dr. Sheldon Kaplan, chief of infectious diseases at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, kids who survive are more likely to need an amputation. That’s because their growing bones are especially vulnerable to bacteria circulating in the bloodstream, and MRSA enters the body through even the smallest cuts and scrapes. Because of this, it often spreads in locker rooms and gyms, and between members of sports and dance teams who have regular skin-to-skin contact, and share equipment. So parents, here’s what you need to know to keep your family safe. We got this from Rodale Publishing.
- Be aware of timing. MRSA is what doctors call an “opportunistic pathogen” – a microbe that takes advantage when the body’s defenses are down. So, if a family member has recently had a medical procedure, they’re more susceptible. Especially children, whose immune systems haven’t fully developed yet.
- Don’t take any unnecessary antibiotics. MRSA rates are up to 8 times higher for people who’ve taken antibiotics within the past year. That’s because antibiotics replace the protective bacteria in your body, but MRSA can overpower synthetic antibodies more easily than your natural ones – because it’s drug-resistant. If you must take antibiotics, ask for the narrow spectrum rather than broad spectrum types. These target a specific area – they don’t compromise the whole body.
- Wash**, wash, wash**! Teach your kids that good hygiene is the single most important thing they can do to stay safe. Staph takes several hours to infect an abrasion, so there’s a window of time when it can be washed away from the skin. The more often they wash, the less likely they are to get infected.