A national campaign to teach parents how to protect kids from skin infections caused by dangerous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria was launched this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
MRSA, a type of staph bacteria that's resistant to certain antibiotics, can cause severe infections in people in hospitals and other health care facilities. It can also cause skin infections in healthy people who haven't recently been hospitalized, the CDC said.
Each year, Americans make more than 12 million visits to doctors for skin infections typical of those caused by staph infections. In some areas of the United States, MRSA accounts for more than half of such skin infections.
The new National MRSA Education Initiative highlights specific measures parents can take to protect themselves and their families from MRSA skin infections. The campaign will include Web sites, fact sheets, brochures, posters, radio and print public service announcements, mom blogging sites, Web banners, and mainstream media interviews. Information will also be shared through community and school groups, professional organizations, faith-based groups, and national health conferences.
MRSA is spread through direct contact with an infection, sharing personal items such as towels or razors that have touched infected skin, or by touching surfaces contaminated by MRSA.
Parents need to teach children about the signs and symptoms of MRSA skin infections, which appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that may be red, swollen, painful, warm to the touch, or contain pus or other drainage. Fever may be another symptom.
The CDC said parents also need to help children keep their cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage and encourage children to have good hand washing and general hygiene habits.
"Well-informed parents are a child's best defense against MRSA and other skin infections. Recognizing the signs and receiving treatment in the early stages of a skin infection reduces the chances of infection becoming severe or spreading," Dr. Rachel Gorwitz, a pediatrician and medical epidemiologist with CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, said in an agency news release.