A high school senior in Florida has died of MRSA ... here's how to lower the risk for your kids.
With all the terrifying news about MRSA these days, we wanted to know 1) how freaked out should we be and 2) how can we keep our kids safe? We asked Dr. Sheldon L. Kaplan, chief of Infectious Disease Service at Texas Children's Hospital. His first point? Something you're already telling them.
1. Discourage kids from picking their noses. Staphylococcus aureus (the bacteria that causes MRSA) lives in many people's noses, so if you notice your kids doing it, make sure they wash their hands immediately afterward.
2. Keep kids' nails short and clean. This will help prevent bacteria from growing under their nails and cut down on germs spread by scratching and aforementioned nose-picking.
3. Keep an eye on insect bites or sores. If a sore is especially red or is starting to ooze, you should take your child to a doctor. If caught early, most cases of staph can be treated with antibiotics or topical ointments.4. Never allow your kids to share washcloths or towels. Not even with siblings or family members. Children should have their own designated washcloth and towel -- no sharing.
5. Encourage frequent hand-washing. Hand-washing is your best defense against MRSA.
6. Always cover open sores or wounds with a bandage. Any open wound is a potential entry point for MRSA.
7. Discourage teens from sharing razors with others. Sharing a razor with an infected person could allow MRSA to enter the bloodstream.
8. Don't push doctors to prescribe antibiotics for viral infections. Overuse of antibiotics contributes to antibiotic resistance.
As to how freaked out we should be, Dr. Kaplan says parents have every right to be worried, but there's no cause for panic. Most cases of MRSA can be treated with antibiotics, with exceptions ... and it's those exceptions that are all over the news right now.