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MRSA Rising in Kids' Ear, Nose, Throat Infections

MRSA Rising in Kids' Ear, Nose, Throat Infections

Lindsay Tanner / AP

January 20, 2009

CHICAGO — Researchers say they found an “alarming” increase in children’s ear, nose and throat infections nationwide caused by dangerous drug-resistant staph germs. Other studies have shown rising numbers of skin infections in adults and children caused by these germs, nicknamed MRSA, but this is the first nationwide report on how common they are in deeper tissue infections in the head and neck, the study authors said. These include certain ear and sinus infections, and abcesses that can form in the tonsils and throat.

The study found a total of 21,009 pediatric head and neck infections caused by staph germs from 2001 through 2006. The percentage caused by hard-to-treat MRSA bacteria more than doubled during that time from almost 12 percent to 28 percent.

“In most parts of the United States, there’s been an alarming rise,” said study author Dr. Steven Sobol, a children’s head and neck specialist at Emory University.

The study appears in January’s Archives of Otolaryngology, released Monday.

It is based on nationally representative information from an electronic database that collects lab results from more than 300 hospitals nationwide.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, can cause dangerous, life-threatening invasive infections and doctors believe inappropriate use of antibiotics has contributed to its rise.

The study didn’t look at the severity of MRSA illness in affected children.

Almost 60 percent of the MRSA infections found in the study were thought to have been contracted outside a hospital setting.

Dr. Robert Daum, a University of Chicago expert in community-acquired MRSA, said the study should serve as an alert to agencies that fund U.S. research “that this is a major public health problem.”

MRSA involvement in adult head and neck infections has been reported although data on prevalence is scarce.

MRSA infections were once limited mostly to hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care settings but other studies have shown they are increasingly picked up in the community, in otherwise healthy people. This can happen through direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with surfaces contaminated with germs from cuts and other open wounds.

  • Img_0116_max50


    about 6 years ago


    I am unfortunately used to MRSA infections in children. The pediatric unit I work in is getting increasing sicker children with their chronic disease processes complicated with MRSA infections. I have recently seen providers give the child antibiotics just to make the parent happy even though they know that this practice will eventually lead to super bugs that may be detrimental down the road to the child health. I do hope that in the near future lay people will be armed with the knowledge that antibiotics are not the cure to everything. As nurses, we have the obligation to provide this knowledge to the parents and the community at large. We also need to continue being an advocate for our patients/families by reminding physicians that antibiotics may not be the proper solution.

  • Picture_018_max50


    about 6 years ago


    I work in a busy ICU. We have patients come to us from the ED as well as the floor units with known and unknown infectious etiologies. These patients can be septic, imuno-compromised or both. It’s not uncommon on this16 bed unit to have four or five rooms in isolation with MRSA, VRE, C-diff, Pseudomonas, Flu, Pneumonia or combinations of these. Urine, Stool, sputum and especially blood cultures can take time to grow. So what about that period of time between collection and verification where the staff and visitors are being exposed to potential bugs? We all know these “super bugs” have nosacomial origins, and I agree with the pediatric nurse, they probably shouldn’t throw amoxicillin at every runny nose that comes into the office. I think there needs to be a paradigm shift with respect to how medical professionals deal with hospital bugs. As an ICU nurse I think that isolation PREcations should be prophylactic for any patient that can not be immediately R/O as infectious, and visitation policies should be scrutinized a little closer as well. On my unit visitors can go into isolated rooms as long as they adhere to established precautions. Is this really a good idea? Maybe if we could consider a more proactive approach with regard to nosacomials, these kids out in the community wouldn’t end up such news worthy statistic.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 6 years ago


    This is some very interesting information and yet somewhat scary in the sense that we are all so open to exposure in the work world as well as in the community. What are we doing now pro-actively to reduce the likely hood of further outbreaks? I know I my self have had a couple of sinus infections this year. I work in a skilled and long term setting. Sometimes we can be exposed before something is diagnosed. Precautions and preventative hints and suggestions from Drs. and Nurses??? We all know hand washing is key but what can we all do to build up our immunity systems, maybe even using natural means to keep healthy and educate the public as well?

  • Imgp2826_max50


    about 6 years ago


    This to me goes back to the pediatricians who give antibiotics for EVERYTHING just because the parents are having a fit to medicate! As a pediatric nurse, I feel it is our duty to educate the parents on when to give antibiotics, to have the children take ALL of the medication regardless of if they feel better or not and to be sure to keep follow up appointments with the doctors. Also, GOOD HANDWASHING NEVER HURT ANYONE!

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