Combating MRSA: New Resources for Parents-September 2008

For help responding to patient inquiries about MRSA, the CDC has launched a major new information campaign to help protect against these infections.

Now that school is back in session, pharmacists may be getting more questions from parents wanting to keep their children safe from skin infections caused by the potentially dangerous bacteria methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just launched a new information campaign to help them out.

The National MRSA Education Initiative highlights specific actions parents can take to protect themselves and their families, using such resources as Web sites, fact sheets, brochures, posters, and radio and print public service announcements, among others. The campaign was developed with support from the CDC Foundation, through an educational grant from Pfizer Inc.

“Well-informed parents are a child’s best defense against MRSA and other skin infections,” said Rachel Gorwitz, MD, a pediatrician and epidemiologist with CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “Recognizing the signs and receiving treatment in the early stages of a skin infection reduces the chances of the infection becoming severe or spreading.”

MRSA is spread by having direct contact with another person’s infection, sharing personal items such as towels or razors that have touched infected skin, or by touching surfaces contaminated with MRSA.

Most staph infections, including those caused by MRSA, appear as a bump or infected area on the skin that may be red, swollen, painful, warm to the touch, or containing pus or other drainage; they are sometimes accompanied by fever. Patients with these symptoms should be advised to contact their doctors.

To prevent MRSA, parents can teach their children about the signs and symptoms of MRSA skin infections, help children keep their cuts and scrapes clean with a bandage, and encourage good hand washing and general hygiene.

For more information, call 1-800-CDC-INFO, or visit www.cdc.gov/MRSA.