Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Dear Lisa,

My son joined the wrestling team and I am very worried about him catching MURSA. What is MURSA and is there anything that I can do to prevent him from catching it?

“Wrestler’s Worried Mom“

Dear “Wrestler’s Worried Mom”,

MRSA, spelled M., R., S., A., stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is a bacterium that causes "staph" infections which are resistant to treatment with usual antibiotics. MRSA happens to be the most common Antibiotic resistant pathogen in many parts of the world including; The Americas, Europe, North Africa, The Middle East and East Asia. (1)

MRSA can cause a very serious and sometimes fatal infection. The skin, lungs, bones and blood can become infected. (2) Most cases of MRSA in the community involve infections of the skin. MRSA may appear as pustules or boils which may be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage. In some cases MRSA appear like a “Spider Bite”. (2)

MRSA skin infections tend to occur at sites on the skin where visible trauma has occurred. For example, a spot where a person was cut or developed an abrasion is a likely site. MRSA skin infections are commonly found on the areas of the body covered by hair such as the back of neck, groin, buttock, armpit or beard area of men.

For many years MRSA had been confined to the the Hospital and Nursing Home settings. But people who are healthy and people outside of the hospital can catch MRSA too. In particular the places or settings where MRSA tends to be transmitted include what the Healthcare community refers to as the 5 C’s:

1. Crowded places- such as schools, dormitories, correctional facilities, and daycare centers.
2. Contact- places where there is frequent skin-to-skin contact such as in football, wrestling, fencing and drill teams.
3. Compromised skin- skin with cuts or abrasions
4. Contaminated items and surfaces
5. and lack of Cleanliness. (3,4,5)

MRSA may be transmitted or spread when a person is directly exposed to someone with MRSA. Therefore a good way to help prevent the spread of infection is:

1. Do Not touch the skin or objects contaminated with body fluids from a person with signs of possible MRSA infection
2. Children with a boil, or a pus filled pimple should avoid direct contact with other children and consult their doctor for evaluation.
3. Athletes should shower immediately after engaging in their sport.
4. Avoid sharing personal items such as clothes, towels or razors that come into contact with bare skin.
5. Use a barrier such as clothing or a towel between your skin and shared equipment such as weight-training benches.
6. Maintain a clean environment by establishing cleaning procedures for frequently touched surfaces and surfaces that come into direct contact with people's skin.
7. Always practice good hand-washing techniques by washing your hands with warm soapy water. (3,4,5)

The best thing that you can do for your son is check his skin regularly during his sport season. Monitor his skin for rashes that look like bug bites or boils. If he develops a suspicious looking rash or lesion, bring him to your health care provider for an evaluation. It is also a good idea to make sure that all cuts and abrasions are covered with a secure dressing. If it is not posssible to keep a secure dressing intact during your child's sport then it is best to refrain from that sport until the wound is healed.

It is important to teach your son to not share towels, clothes, razors or any other personal items with his teammates. MRSA can be spread from personal items of a person who may not appear ill. Some people can be carriers of MRSA and spread the infection to others. In addition MRSA can remain alive on environmental surfaces, such as benches, mats or gym equipment for varying amounts of time, sometimes weeks or longer. (6) Therefore using a barrier (such as a towel) between you son’s bare skin and these items can help prevent the spread of infection.

Lastly, make sure you son showers immediately after returning home from practice or games. Although the CDC does not recommend a particular soap, Herbalists and Practitioners of Homeopathic medicine support the use of soap with Tea Tree oil. Tea tree oil comes from the Melaleuca tree which is native to Australia. It has been used as a traditional medicine by the people of Australia for over a hundred years. Tea tree oil has potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and can be effective against MRSA (7, 8, 9, 10).

I wish you luck with your son and hope he stays infection free!

For More Information About Topics Discussed:

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Recurrent Boils

Skin Infections

Tea Tree Oil

(1)Grundmann H, Aires-de-Sousa M, Boyce J, Teimersma E. Emergence and resurgence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus as a public-health threat. Lancet: DOI: 10. 1016/S0140-6736(06)68853-3.
(2)Stephenson M. MRSA on the rise, even in newborns. Infectious Diseases in Children. 2006. Sept:43-44.
(3)Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Community-Associated Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). Available at: Accessed Nov 2007.
(4)Stphenson M. Community-acquired MRSA a ‘new normal’. Infectious Diseases in Children. 2006. Sept. 68-69.
(5)Elston D. More MRSA infections are headed your way. The Clinical Advisor. 2006. July:67-69.
(6)Wood D. On the Front Lines Against MRSA. Nursing Spectrum. 2007. Nov:12-13.
(7)Hammer KA, Carson CF, Riley TV. Susceptibility of transient and commensal skin flora to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil). Am J Infection Control. 1996. June 24(3):186-9.
(8) Pepping J. Medicinal Uses of Herbs. Audio-Digest Pediatrics. 2000. 46(8).
(9) Hada T, Furuse S, Matsumoto Y, Hamashima H, Masuda K, Shiojima K, Arai T, Sasatsu M. Comparison of the effects in vitro of tea tree oil and plaunotol on methicillin-susceptible and methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Microbios. 2001. 106(Supp) 2:131-41.
(10)Carson CF, Cookson BD, Farrelly HD, Riley TV. Susceptibility of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus to the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia. J Antimicrob Chemother. 1995. Mar;35(3):421-4.

Lisa-ann Kelly R.N., P.N.P.,C.
Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

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