Local News

Variant of Staph Infection Is One Tough Bug

Posted August 15, 2007

— A tough strain of skin infection that's called the “Super Bug” has become the most common form of skin infection among adult patients in hospitals nationwide, health officials say, but it can prey on people big and small.

One blister showed up on Emma Berrier’s forehead, then another on her chin. Celia Berrier took her 6-month-old daughter to the doctor.

"He didn't even need to do a culture. He just knew it was MRSA," Celia said Wednesday.

It’s pronounced MER-sah and stands for “methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus,” a tough strain of staph infection unfazed by many antibiotics.

Emma’s mom believes Emma caught MRSA from another child whose MRSA has worsened.

"It progressed and has moved to other parts of his body, and he's just very ill,” Berrier said.

MRSA usually infects the skin and causes large pimples or boils. It can, however, enter through wounds, spread through the bloodstream and even infect the lungs.

"The [bacteria] is everywhere. It's on the skin, in the nose" normally, said Dr. Lan Tran-Phu of the Cumberland County Health Department.

When it becomes an infection, however, the MRSA strain can be tricky to treat, she said.

"Because of the new strain of the mutation of the bacteria that becomes more resistant to antibiotics, we become more concerned because we have to use different kinds of antibiotics," Tran-Phu said.

Doctors say the best way to avoid an infection is with routine hand-washing and strong personal hygiene. They also recommend keeping cuts and bruises cleaned and covered until they heal.

It’s hard to pin down numbers to tell how widespread MRSA is in North Carolina, but state health officials recorded 95 serious cases of MRSA at the state's 11 biggest hospitals in 2005 and 2006.

Health officials stress that most MRSA infections will eventually heal, as Emma’s are.
Infections are most common among people who have weak immune systems and live in hospitals, though officials say it's increasingly showing up in healthy people.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • SunnyDays Aug 16, 2007

    I have had two families members one with MRSA, and one with a staph infection, the one with MRSA, just never got better, after several years of bad health she died, MRSA, is deadly, and is very hard to treat once gotten in the blood system, even with the six weeks of antibiotics at times. Staph infections are somewhat more treatable, but they do make you very sick, high fever, chills. Please, don't ignore any signs that you might have of either of these.

  • froggienc252 Aug 16, 2007

    I got a MRSA infection about 7 years ago and ended up in the hospital for 10 days and then on iv antibiotics for 10 more days after going home. Now I am dealing with spots coming up all over my body and the docs can not figure out how to get rid of the strain of MRSA or staph that I have. Getting this is no joking matter. I was a very healthy person when I got this 7 years ago and thought I was healthy now. I am on antibiotics everyday and have been for 3 months and will be for atleast another 3 months.

  • Laidback Aug 16, 2007

    I am as of this time nursing a MSRA staff infection on my elbow. The best I can remember is that it came from a mosquita bite a few weeks back. I went to the doctor with it because it swelled up so and the next thing I knew I was in the operating room. 5 days later I came home. That was 3 weeks ago and I am still bandaged up. They are noithing to play with!!!

  • simplelogic Aug 16, 2007

    I have a mild heart murmur, and my dentist insists that I take 4 500-milligram capsules of amoxicillin before every cleaning. That's 1 full gram of antibiotics, "just in case". I'd rather take my chances than create antibiotic-resistant strains in my body, so I lie and say I took them when I didn't.

  • Mad Baumer Aug 16, 2007

    We use antibiotics for everything. In the dental field, it has been common practice to pre-medicate every patient that has a Mitro-Valve Prolapse, joint replacement, or heart murmer. Now the American Heart Association has come out and said that we are starting to create "super bugs" that are resisitant to anti-biotics because of the over use of them in the past. We are now urged not to pre-med. I wonder if these stories of resistant infections are going to become more and more common?

  • hdvoodooqueen Aug 16, 2007

    I am a nurse who deals with patients with this infection at much too high a rate. Whereas good handwashing and hygeine are effective tools, NOTHING but antibiotics, which have been identified as effective by a culture and sensitivity test of the infection site, are truly effective.The staph aureus bug which started this is a normal skin flora, on your skin and mine, but has adapted to be resistent to methicillin, which is what makes it dangerous. But is is only the tip of the iceberg. That is why EARLY treatment by a MD is ESSENTIAL. And by the way, there are MANY others....VRE, Vancomycin resistant e. coli, and ORSA, oxacillin resistant staph aureus that can be deadly as well. Make sure even your MD/Nurse WASHES his hands before he touchs you...sometimes THEY are the source as well.

  • Professor Studley Aug 16, 2007

    "I've also read that regular laundering kills the bacteria in most cases. As does alcohol!" --then who cares

    "great, so if my baby gets it I poor a few bottles of near over them. If it was this easily treated, do you not think the antibiotics would heal them??" --poohperson2000 (not funny at all)


    I believe you are missing the point... the ideal is to prevent the infection to begin with... (Isopropyl) Alcohol is used to prevent the infection from spreading to and/or from the wound. It is advised as a measure to clean the wound not heal the actual infection, which the body does on it's own, by reducing the amount of bacteria intially exposed to, the body has a better chance of recovering without major complications. Warm saline water has a similar effect, infact, it is often used to irragate boils after lancing.

  • then who cares Aug 15, 2007

    The alcohol would be used for disinfecting items that have come in contact with the sore; not for putting on the sore! The alcohol on the sore probably would do nothing more than sting for the most part.

    There are other forms of alcohol than beer by the way!

  • then who cares Aug 15, 2007

    When I mentioned the salt story to my physician his response was that salt solutions are very effective for a number of things. There was a time when we couldn't trot down to a doctor at the first sign of a sniffle!!

  • then who cares Aug 15, 2007

    I'm just telling you what I've seen work. I'm not talking about after it becomes a full-blown boil. And I never said a word about beer!! The info about the alcohol I read on a medical site about the infections. Maybe if you do some research for yourself instead of blabber mouthing you will find that there are some remedies that do work that don't involve having to blow your insurance company up.