Health Team

Fayetteville girl recovers from MRSA infection

Posted February 9, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— It was a mystery illness that led a Fayetteville family to Duke University Hospital.

Super-bacteria infections hit N.C. children Super-bacteria infections hit N.C. children

It began when 15-month-old Bianca woke up crying. Her mother, Agniescka Alexander, didn't know what was wrong until she put her down to walk.

“She started to limp, so I knew, OK, something is wrong with your foot,” Alexander said.

The girl's foot was slightly swollen. Two visits to the emergency room didn't stop her leg from swelling, too, or halt a rising fever.

Then a blood culture found Bianca had methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterial infection resistant to many common antibiotics. It starts as a skin infection, but can get worse with delayed treatment.

Doctors referred Alexander to Duke for strong antibiotics and surgery to drain the infection.

“Once they drained it (her leg), the fever dropped so ... since then, she has not (had any) fevers,” Alexander said.

“For the patients, we're able to put them on the right antibiotics, and the surgeons are able to drain (the infections). Most of them do very, very well,” said Dr. Ravi Jhaveri, with Duke Pediatrics' Division of Infectious Diseases.

However, Jhaveri said Bianca's infection was more difficult to treat. She had bone damage and required a few additional surgeries.

Duke has a plan in place to work with referral doctors to help them recognize and test for MRSA earlier.

The goal is to “have them recognize that MRSA is now the prevailing pathogen in these skin and soft tissue infections,” Jhaveri said.

Jhaveri said he is hopeful Bianca's infection won't affect the bone's ability to grow normally.

“She's getting better,” Alexander said.

Bianca is expected to be OK and was released Thursday from the hospital after spending three weeks there. She will remain on strong antibiotics for about a month, Jhaveri said.


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  • iamyeary Feb 12, 2009

    Glad the little girl is doing well. Now I know why my Mom always insisted on keeping shoes and socks on children as soon as they begin to walk. Southerners love to be barefoot, but it can be risky.

  • tehsmurf Feb 11, 2009

    in the hospitals we are noticing more and more that people with no history of prior hospitalizations are testing positive for MRSA. Every admission into our unit is swabbed for MRSA and VRE when they arrive. Its not just a hospital/nursing home aquired infection anymore. It is out in the community.

  • Killian Feb 11, 2009

    I almost died from MRSA 4yrs ago and I no longer walk without a brace/cane because of it. I begged my ortho surgeon's office for help every day for a week after my knee surgery because I had a fever and horrible pain and swelling. I'd had knee surgery before and never experienced anything like that. They blew me off.

    A few days later in the ER, the MRSA was diagnosed. I had emergency surgery in the middle of the night to save my life, but my knee is ruined for good.

    More medical personnel should be on the lookout for this deadly infection. It's inexcusable to just ignore it.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Feb 10, 2009

    Factory farming of animals creates environments so unhealthy, they keep the animals loaded with antibiotics. This overuse is creating antibiotic-resistant mutations. Viruses like these are just more fallout from humans doing something unhealthy and completely unnecessary...eating animals. Think about that the next time you sit down to dinner.

  • superk Feb 10, 2009

    A couple years ago my 13 month old grandson had what we thought was a boil on his bottom - turned out to be MRSA. He had to be hospitalized and have it lanced and drained (packed with gauze -took a few days to get it all out). Then I had what I thought was a pimple on my chin, but it wasn't. I ended up in the emergency room at a local hospital Sunday) because the left side of my face had swollen quite quickly,and the doctor treated me for shingles (didn't have the correct symptoms for shingles, but "the doctor knows best"). Had a bad reaction to the meds he put me on so after two more days I went to my regular physician. I was put on different meds. Still no better. Finally, I went to a different doctor at my physicians office. He did a test, and guess what, I had a MRSA infection. Luckily it was caught early enough and I did not have any permanent scarring, but it did break out again near my eye a week later. It is difficult to diagnose, but please be persistent with treatment

  • Dalphine Feb 10, 2009

    Good morning and I hope everyone gets better from this infection. Duke is a great hospital and can catch things quickly and start the correct treatment.

  • BeHappy Feb 10, 2009

    My son contracted MRSA. He had visited a friend several times at Wake Med so I suspect that is where he got it. He was really sick for awile. I was in a panic because I knew how serious it can be but when we visited his doctor she did not seem too concerned. Her attitide concerned me. She said it was no big deal, just keep the leasions clean and dry, continue to keep the cream on them, and continue antibiotics. It seems that I remember years ago that any hospital where Staff Infection was found was just about threatened with closure if it was not taken care of immediately. My Dad contracted it at Georgetown University Hospital after having surgery and had to have strong antibiotics administered by a nurse for several weeks. This seems to be just about the norm at hospitals these days. I hope everyone that has posted will recover. What a terrible thing to happen to anyone.

  • Sir Freezy McQuackers Feb 9, 2009

    I am glad this girl recovered. Sadly, many people don't. MRSA claimed the life of someone close to me. I will pray for your dad, MCM3.

  • montecarlomama3 Feb 9, 2009

    My Dad is in Wake Med in Raleigh and contracted MRSA and they are still fighting it. He is 80 years old and will never be the same. They told his family once you get MRSA you will always carry it like a scarlet letter the rest of your life. Maybe we should have carried him to Duke because he is still in the hospital and has been for 47 days. Thank God that little girl is doing okay. Please pray for my dad. I wish we had been as smart and went to Duke to begin with and maybe we would have him home by now.