and Guest Blogger, Dr. Sameena Evers
It is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Sameena Evers, a Charlotte pediatrician and mom of two – Luke (4) and Sasha (16 months). Sameena has been in Charlotte for the better part of 10 years and splits her time between mommy duties and working at Dilworth Pediatrics. To quote Sameena, “I LOOOVE my job – pediatrics is such a fun field; I truly enjoy what I do and feel so lucky to have such fantastic work.” So we thought it’d be great for Sameena to share her perspective not only as a pediatrician, but also a mom on some of the most common issues she sees coming through her door. This obviously does not take the place of your own medical provider’s advice specific to your child. We’ll spare you all the legal mumbo jumbo, but I’m sure you get the gist that this is not an “ask the doctor” column. We hope you find it enjoyable and helpful and we welcome your thoughts on future topics.
So on to the scary topic of MRSA…
I often get the wide-eyed look of horror when I tell a parent in the office that we need to treat their child for MRSA (Click here for Jen’s “Day in the Life of Jen P” – make sure you read through the comments when she discovered that Walker had MRSA!!). Sure, it’s been all over the news about this new deadly bacteria but surprise, surprise – in reality a lot of the terror is media hype. I’m not denying its presence and the potential severity of disease but I want to set the record straight on the most common type of MRSA infection we see in pediatric practice which truly is nothing to lose sleep over.
First off, what is MRSA (pronounced merr-suh)? MRSA is another fun medical acronym (it seems there can never be enough) which stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus aureus has been around in the medical literature forever and many of us probably have it living quite peacefully on our skin or in our nasal passages. Remember those fun science projects you did in middle school where you grew stuff out on a Petri dish after wiping a swab on your skin or hair? There are a lot of bacteria that live on and around us and don’t cause any trouble in normal circumstances. Skin infections may occur when things get off balance – say a toddler scratching at a bug bite incessantly or the constant wiping of a runny nose. When there is an open area on the skin, the normally peaceful bacteria may make its way into the bloodstream and cause an infection. Usually the infections are fairly simple to treat with antibiotics and they often remain localized, meaning you may have some little pus bumps on a small area of skin but overall feel great. The new thing about MRSA is that it is a bacteria which is resistant to the common antibiotics, probably due to a mutation in the bacteria. Methicillin describes a class of these commonly used antibiotics, thus the name methicillin-resistant”.
The good news is that the medical community has caught on to this fun new mutation and we have antibiotics which work well to get rid of the infection. These days, we often assume that minor skin infections are caused by MRSA and treat appropriately. Sometimes if the infection is small we can just use a prescription antibiotic cream but often we need to use an oral antibiotic as well. There are exceptions to the rule, but these infections usually respond well to treatment and disappear in a few days. The open wound should be covered during the time of infection but return to school and other activities is usually immediate.
In summary, you should definitely take your child in to the doctor if you suspect a skin wound has become infected. The usual signs of skin infections are a red or tender area, draining wound, or new pustules breaking out. Don’t fear if MRSA is mentioned in the conversation – it’s easily treated for most and no panic is necessary!
For a good laugh, check out the stuffed animal versions of bacteria like MRSA at www.giantmicrobes.com. (special thanks to my friend, Kim who discovered this website:-)
Thanks, Sameena! We’ll be hearing more from her in the future in her guest blogger series. You can find Sameena at:
1315 East Boulevard, Suite 280
Charlotte , NC 28203
Thanks for providing some good news about MRSA! That is a bit of a relief. So what’s the story behind the MRSA outbreaks we’ve heard about on the news? Are the serious cases the result of a rare strain, or do they result from the common strain going untreated?
This is an extreme underexageration to a big problem.Methacillin covers/treats bacteria that would not normally be covered by our more common antibiotics like amoxicilin. Therefore this is a real problem… when the bacteria are resistant to metacillin we only have the antibiotics that are the “bigger guns” left. I agree that this is more a problem when a patient gets a systemic infection from MRSA, however this problem should not be sugar-coated. MRSA is a big problem and should not be overlooked. When a bacteria becomes resistant to the next antibiotic in line in our arsenal we have to use an even stronger antibiotic and it is only a matter of time before that one is rendered ineffective. This is why the media makes a big deal of MRSA… because it IS a growing problem. There are not too many new antibioics in the “pipelines” of drug companies and that is why we should really be concerned about antibiotic resistance.
I totally agree that from a public health perspective, resistance to antibiotics is a huge problem in medicine. We definitely need to dial back use of antibiotics for many common ailments to help with this ongoing problem. However, I stand by statement that MRSA is generally not a serious illness in my healthy pediatric population. I probably treat MRSA 3-5 times a week and have only had one patient hospitalized due to MRSA in the last year. For the patients I see every day, MRSA is generally easily treated.