Study: MRSA blood infections less fatal in children

Researchers at Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C., have found that children with MRSA, pictured under a microscope, infections are less likely to die from their infections compared to adutls, but are at a greater risk of complications. Photo by aterynaon/Shutterstock

May¬†6 (UPI) — A new study found children with bloodstream infections from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, are less likely to die from the disease.

MRSA is a common antibiotic-resistant bacteria causing more than 80,000 infections and 11,000 deaths in the United States annually.

MRSA infections that reach the bloodstream in adults often cause complications and death, leading to the deaths of 10 percent to 30 percent of patients.

A new study by researchers at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., examined the outcomes of 232 children with MRSA bacteremia, or blood infections, at centers in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Salt Lake City from 2007 to 2014.

Nearly 80 percent of adult MRSA infections are community acquired, rather than being picked up at the hospital.

Researchers used electronic health records to extract epidemiological and outcome data, finding just 2 percent of pediatric patients with MRSA die from the infections. However, one-quarter of children with MRSA blood infections develop serious complications, such as blood clots caused by an immune response to the infection, that can spread to areas like the heart.

The average length of infection in children was two days, compared to seven days in adults; however, researchers found the risk of developing complications in children rose by 50 percent each day of the infection.

“Knowing that the risk of complications increases with every additional day the bacteria are detected in the bloodstream highlights the importance of early and aggressive therapy for these infections,” Dr. Rana Hamdy, attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s National, said in a press release.

The study found that one-third of the children had treatment failure with bacteremia lasting longer than three days, a recurrence of bacteremia within 30 days or died from this condition.

Children were more likely to have treatment failure in their muscles, bones and blood vessels. Vancomycin is the antibiotic commonly used to treat MRSA and an important predictor of morbidity and mortality in blood concentrations in adults with MRSA infection.

Researchers found that vancomycin concentrations had little effect on treatment failure in children.

“This is an important finding,” Hamdy said. “In order to achieve high concentrations of vancomycin, children are given higher doses. These high doses, however, can be associated with kidney injury. If there is no clear benefit in clearing the bacterial infection, these high doses may place children at risk unnecessarily.”

The study was published in Pediatrics.

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