Local doctors see increase of severe skin infections
A dangerous strain of a superbug that can be caught as easily as getting a mosquito bite is sweeping through St. Charles Parish. Local doctors say they are seeing an increase of patients with severe skin infections caused by a pumped up strain of staphylococcus aureus called MRSA.
The infection, doctors say, can start out looking like pimples, rashes or pus-filled boils. Yet, when they become warm, painful, red or swollen, it’s a good bet that the infection has turned into a staph skin infection.
Four years ago, Luling pediatrician Juan Fukuda rarely saw serious skin infections caused by this bacterium. Today, the doctor says patients are coming to his office at the St. Charles Community Health Center nearly every day with serious skin infections caused by this dangerous superbug.
“Just last week, I had to send a patient to Children’s Hospital to have the infection drained,” said Fukuda. The concerned doctor said that the patient was 8-months old and had the developed the infection on his backside in the diaper area. According to the parents, the child only had the infection for two days.
“This bacteria moves very fast,” says Fukuda. The pediatrician says he treats his patients with specific antibiotics. According to the Department of Health and Hospitals, a staph infection can heal without treatment, but in the patients Fukuda has seen, otherwise healthy children, this has not been the case.
Not only has the superbug moved beyond the boundaries of high-risk groups it first plagued, it seems to have gotten much more aggressive. Originally, the bacteria attacked only burn patients and at-risk hospital patients undergoing invasive operations. Today, the bacteria are attacking otherwise healthy individuals.
Luling doctor Kiren Chava, says that the reason the superbug is spreading is because 25 to 30 percent of the population are carriers of staphylococcus bacteria and more and more of them are carrying the super variety. A carrier has colonies of Staphylococcus aureus in his nasal passages and will have no symptoms until the aggressive bacteria find their way into a small cut or abrasion in the skin – either his or someone else’s. That’s why, says Chava, it is so important to wash your hands.
Besides regular hand washing, you can help prevent a staph infection by keeping skin clean by bathing daily with a mild soap that won’t dry out the skin, and keeping the areas that have been cut clean or covered.
According to the private internist, who is also on staff at St. Charles Parish Hospital, the real danger of a MRSA staph infection is when a person’s immune system is already compromised, such as a diabetic or chemotherapy patient.
Chava has had many patients, mostly diabetics, loose their legs to oslymylitus, an infection in the bone that can originate with a skin staph infection.