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MRSA: March 7, 2011

They may be tiny, but this cluster of bacteria can do some major damage. "What has become more prevalent is a more aggressive strain of bacteria that everyone is familiar with, MRSA or Methicillin - Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus," says Dr. Matthew Wagner, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon on The Children's Hospital medical staff.

This strain of bacteria can wreak havoc, causing infections in all areas of the body. MRSA can spread through physical contact and by sharing personal hygiene items such as razors and towels. Even contact with contaminated door handles and equipment can spread it.

Dr. Wagner says that bacteria in the body isn't unusual, but too much of this strain can be problematic. "The difference is that MRSA has adapted to antibiotics over the years and has grown resistant to it." Because of this resistance, doctors encourage patients to be especially vigilant of small red bumps, pimples, or boils. While some MRSA skin infections can be mild, it can also penetrate into a child's bloodstream. "MRSA tends to be a much more viral organism. It causes much m ore destructive infections and much more rapidly presenting and children tend to, when they come in, require more surgical intervention and require more hospital stays."

Bug bites, rashes, and other skin conditions can be confused with MRSA since conditions are so similar. If an infection spreads or does not improve after a few days, see your child's doctor for consultation.