Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that can cause infection of the skin and other parts of the body. It can be severe or deadly for those with compromised immune systems, like young children and babies, and it is resistant to many antibiotics currently used to treat bacteria. Signs of MRSA in infants include fever and a boil, wound, or skin infection that does not heal with normal treatment. MRSA can compromise nearly every system of the body, and an infant infected with the MRSA bacteria can present a multitude of symptoms common with any bacterial illness. General pain and lethargy, coughing, and difficulty breathing are all possible symptoms of MRSA in babies.
The first sign of MRSA in infants is often a pimple-like sore that resembles an insect bite and includes drainage or pus. Redness, pain, or tenderness often accompanies the sore or sores, and a fever might also be noted. Impetigo, a common skin disease in infants, can also be caused by the MRSA bacteria. The signs of impetigo include fluid filled blisters that most commonly present on the diaper area, buttocks, and face. When an infant or child possesses a skin infection, rash, or blemish that does not respond to treatment, the child's caregiver should consult a physician.
Like most other illness-causing bacteria, MRSA can also infect the blood or various body organs. MRSA inside the body is typically more dangerous than a skin infection, and an infant with an internal MRSA infection could be afflicted by a variety of symptoms. Lung infections, for example, are likely to result in pneumonia, a cough, and shortness of breath. Other general symptoms of MRSA in infants include fever, shaking, chills, lethargy, and pain. If the MRSA bacteria causes a sepsis, a blood infection, the infant might display abnormal heart rate and white blood cell count, rapid, shallow breathing, and decreased consciousness.
A large proportion of MRSA infections originate in the hospital. For this reason, it is important to consider the effects of MRSA on hospitalized babies. Seriously ill or premature babies are generally treated in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). If test results show that a child in the unit is colonized with MRSA bacteria, additional precautions must be taken in order to prevent an outbreak of MRSA in infants. Nurses, doctors, and possibly family members will be required to take additional MRSA precautions like wearing gowns and gloves when in contact with the infant, and proper hand washing procedures are paramount.