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MRSA Death Scares Parents

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A high school senior in Florida has died of MRSA ... here's how to lower the risk for your kids.

Anti-septic hand lotion dispensers
18-year-old high school football player Alonzo Smith died last weekend from MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). It starts when bacteria gets into a cut, scrape or break in the skin. Now health workers are scrubbing down Liberty High School in central Florida to make sure the deadly MRSA infection doesn't spread.

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.

next: It's a Fact: You're an Embarassment
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
giggy October 3, 2008, 4:16 PM


sergio October 3, 2008, 7:34 PM

no more dirty fingernails!!!

jennyc October 3, 2008, 9:22 PM

My 2 year old son spent 12 days in the hospital this past spring fighting MRSA. The doctors have no idea how he got it, but we thank GOd that with a combo of meds and some prayers he came out 100% infection free.
Our prayers are with this family.

Medifix October 4, 2008, 10:34 AM

One thing you forgot to mention is about head lice, children harbouring head lice have a tendency to scratch their scalp and often get ulcers which can get infected with Staphylococcus.

Parents must regularly prevent head lice infestations. Using nit coomb is the best way to do it because head lice is now said to be resistant to various pesticides used in shampoo and cream.

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 2:35 PM

Nice site! Enjoyable and fun reading. I have got a single opinion to submit about tee shirts.

Cody Costanzo May 18, 2011, 7:38 AM

Many thanks designed for publishing the actual creative ideas. In spite of one or two becoming good sense it’s an awesome reminder to complete some of these in order to offered your sensitive skin we have a several TLC

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