WEDNESDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Hospitalized children who
carry a dangerous type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria but show no
signs of illness are still at high risk for developing full-blown
infections, a new study finds.
The germ -- methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
-- is linked to more than 18,600 deaths a year in the United
Johns Hopkins Children's Center researchers examined the medical
records of 3,140 children admitted to the pediatric intensive care
unit between 2007 and 2010. Of those children, 153 arrived at the
hospital already colonized with MRSA -- that is, the germ was
living in the nose or on the skin but not causing infection.
Compared to non-carriers, the children who carried MRSA before
they arrived at the hospital were nearly six times more likely to
develop invasive MRSA infections after discharge and eight times
more likely to develop them while still in the hospital.
Invasive MRSA infections are serious infections that affect the
whole body, and they can be life-threatening.
Among the children who were MSRA-free when they came to the
hospital, 15 acquired MRSA while in intensive care. Seven of those
15 developed serious infections, six of them while still in the
"Hospitalized children colonized with MRSA have a very real risk for invasive infections, both while in the hospital and once they leave, so mitigating this risk is a serious priority," lead investigator Dr. Aaron Milstone, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, said in a Hopkins news release.
"We need standardized protocols on ways to protect MRSA carriers from developing invasive infections while also minimizing its spread to others. In the meantime, there are certain things healthcare providers can do to protect all patients," he added.
Measures that help prevent the spread of MRSA include rigorous
hand washing by health care providers and isolation of MRSA
carriers in private rooms.
Putting a topical antibiotic in the nostrils of MRSA carriers
and bathing them with antiseptic solution may also reduce these
children's risk of full-blown infection and transmission to other
The study was published online in the Aug. 30 issue of the
Clinical Infectious Diseases.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more