In the hospital, doctors tend to be more aware of a patients history. This includes their possible risk factors to contagious diseases like MRSA. Besides this, doctors are also aware of which patients are at a higher risk for MRSA: those in long term care, patients with surgical wounds, and burn patients, among others. However, for community acquired MRSA, the risk factors are not always as readily identifiable, since chronic illness may not be the primary risk factor.
May Be Harder to Identify Than Hospital Strains
MRSA can be a serious problem for the children that contract it, since their immune systems are not as developed as those of adults. However, for children checking into urban emergency rooms and clinics, MRSA does not seem to occur more often in those that had a history of hospitalization, chronic illness, or a medical device. These risk factors are normally the ones that are seen with MRSA patients that contracted the disease in a medical setting.
When case studies were performed, it seemed that the fact a child had been in a hospital or not was not enough to distinguish between having MRSA and not having MRSA. In fact, it seems that the cases of community acquired MRSA are on the rise, putting children at risk that had never even been to the hospital.
All Staph Infection Suspect
Because of these findings, it may mean that doctors need to consider all staph infections as possible MRSA infections, especially in those areas where the number of cases of MRSA infections is increasing. Since there is a good chance that the staph infection could be resistant to standard medical treatments for staph, doctors may need to change the practice of diagnosing and treating staph infections in their clinics.
Because of this, all staph infections should be cultured. This will help to determine whether or not it is a MRSA infection, as well as what treatment of antibiotics will be most effective to treat the disease. Another thought is that drainage of the pustules should occur more often, since there is some evidence that draining skin and soft tissue infections may help to resolve the issue. An increase in follow up exams is also encouraged so that the doctor can keep a close eye on the infection, and adjust the treatment if the infection is not responding or is getting worse.
In one study, over 440 cases of community acquired staph infections were found in a two year period, with about thirty percent of them being a result of MRSA. While there was no change in time of the number of cases, the incidence of MRSA in young children dramatically increased, with almost 50% of the staph infections in the second year being due to MRSA. Of these increases, there was no major difference between the children that had community acquired MRSA and those that had a history of illness, hospitalization, or medical device.
Because of the seriousness of the disease, it is highly encouraged that all skin infections in children be looked at by a doctor. If staph is suspected, request an MRSA test to ensure that your young one is getting the proper medical treatment.