More Children Being Hospitalized with MRSA

An increase is being seen in the number of children hospitalized each year with dangerous, often deadly, drug-resistant staph infections, said The Associated Press (AP), which noted that the increase in recent years has been a whopping ten-fold.

The increase has been cited as from two to 21 per 1,000 hospital admissions from 1999 to 2008, said the AP, which added that most of the infections were found in the community, not the hospital. The staph infection involved was <"">MRSA—methicillin-resistant staph, said the AP. While MRSA typically occurs in facilities, such as nursing homes and hospitals, the AP pointed out what we have long been saying, that MRSA is now showing up in the community. As a matter-of-fact, hospital-acquired MRSA appears to be declining while community-acquired MRSA is on the rise, said the AP.

According to Dr. Buddy Creech, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, who was not involved in the study, the study’s findings are “a good example of how something that is not unexpected remains alarming,” quoted the AP.

Although the study looked at 25 children’s hospitals, the increase is believed to have taken place across the country, said Dr. Jason Newland, reported the AP. Dr. Newland is the study’s lead author and an infectious disease physician at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said the AP. The hospitals studied reported hospitalizations of nearly 30,000 children over 10 years with most presenting with skin or muscle infections; 374 children died, said the AP. While the deaths were not directly linked to MRSA in the study cases, over 18,000 deaths are linked to MRSA in children and adults in the United States annually, noted the AP.

Of note, the study found a stark coincidence between MRSA and the antibiotic, clindamycin, said the AP, a problem, because MRSA is becoming resistant to the antibiotic in some areas.

A large number of infections are due to drug-resistant bacteria, such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which end up costing more because of the limited amount of medications that work against drug-resistant infections, said Reuters previously. According to Pfizer Inc. estimates, treating MRSA costs about $4 billion annually, noted Reuters. MRSA now has two main strains including the traditional, hospital-acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA) and Community-Acquired MRSA. Since physicians tend to work between hospital inpatient and outpatient areas, this is problematic.

About 100,000 cases of invasive MRSA occur annually in the U.S., according to the CDC; most occur in hospitals and other health-care settings. In the U.S., MRSA kills some 20,000 people annually, said Science Daily. According to 2005 CDC figures, nearly 19,000 people died in the U.S. from MRSA infections; 94,000 were seriously sickened.

Prevention infection is relatively simple, explained Reuters, and involves to prevent infection are simple and include careful hand washing, hygiene and screening patients when they check in. However, these measures are difficult to enforce, many studies have found.

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