**WARNING: Post may contain images that are difficult to look at.**
Writing this post is so hard, but it’s important to know what can happen to your children. In late June, Madeline contracted community MRSA. Mike, FYM Emily’s husband, is in the Army National Guard, and while away for his drill weekend he contracted community MRSA on his leg. Despite being very clean with changing his dressing and bandages, Madeline contracted it on her chin.
MRSA, or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, is caused by staph bacteria that has become immune to antibiotics and can be very dangerous. It typically often begins as a painful skin boil. It’s spread by skin-to-skin contact. At-risk populations include groups such as high school wrestlers, child care workers and people who live in crowded conditions (Mayo Clinic, 2017). Madeline is at a stage where when she hugs you, she hugs your thigh, so it was probably only a matter of time before she got it.
Madeline had come home with what looked like a pimple on a Thursday evening. She woke up at 4:30am on Saturday screaming, and I realized that the “pimple” had burst and was bleeding.
After calling the pediatrician (who said she didn’t need to be seen), we went to a family barbecue for the fourth of July holiday. All day long the pocket kept swelling and redness seemed to spread up her face and jawline. We decided to be safe and head to urgent care who immediately sent us to the pediatric ER at Albany Medical Center.
She was seen very quickly and they determined that she had two abscesses that required draining. This meant she had to be put under, which is extremely scary, but if MRSA is left untreated it can spread to the bloodstream and other organs, so it was necessary. Madeline was a trooper, but was admitted to the Children’s Hospital for IV antibiotics and monitoring. The culture of the abscesses was sent out for 48 hours of testing.
In the 6 days we spent in the hospital, Madeline had to be put under twice to drain the abscesses. She had a team of 6 plastic surgeons and 8 pediatricians (including residents). She received 5 days of constant IV antibiotics (through three different injection sites). It was only on the last day that we gave her oral antibiotics and she was able to move freely. The whole time she was a trooper!
While we were at the hospital my parents were at home furiously preparing the house for her return. Because MRSA can live on any surface, anything and everything she had come into contact with needed to be cleaned. This meant bleaching a lot of toys, washing everything that could be on the sanitary cycle (super hot water) and throwing out anything that could not be cleaned. On the plus side, my house is a little less cluttered, but it was a nerve wrecking time not knowing if we got everything.
There are only a few ways to keep MRSA from spreading and the best way is to ensure you are constantly washing your hands with soap and water, not hand sanitizer or antibacterial like Purell. This can actually kill off the good bacteria on your skin. This was the perfect time to teach Madeline how to wash her hands herself.
About a month out, we are glad to say Madeline has fully healed and has not re-contracted the disease. We’ve had a follow up with the plastic surgery team, and provided she is protected from all sun exposure, her scaring should heal fine. However, it is quite common and extremely dangerous, so we need to be careful to ensure she doesn’t contract it again. If you think your child has contracted MRSA, call your pediatrician and go to urgent care or the ER immediately. This is not one to joke around with or wait on!