Child deaths from flu + MRSA, again

Folks, I am close to manuscript deadline and so keep disappearing down the rabbit hole; forgive me if I don’t post as regularly as usual, I’ll be back as soon as I can.

I wanted to point out the announcement by the Centers for Disease Control late Friday that we are starting to see children dying from MRSA this flu season. (The architecture of the linked page is unfortunately way clumsy; at the link, scroll down to the subhead “Influenza-Associated Pediatric Mortality.”)

Since September 28, 2008, CDC has received nine reports of influenza-associated pediatric deaths that occurred during the current season.
Bacterial coinfections were confirmed in six (66.7%) of the nine children; Staphylococcus aureus was identified in four (66.7%) of the six children. Two of the S. aureus isolates were sensitive to methicillin and two were methicillin resistant. All six children with bacterial coinfections were five years of age or older.

We’ve talked before (here, here and here, among other posts) among the emerging understanding of the particular danger that MRSA poses during flu season, when (it is hypothesized) inflammation from flu infection makes the lungs more vulnerable to secondary bacterial infection.

(For those paying attention to the hospital v. community MRSA debate, this is a community-associated infection, not a hospital one.)

This current CDC bulletin underlines, just in case we have forgotten, that drug-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) can be a serious foe as well. Let’s remember, resistance makes MRSA less treatable than MSSA, but it does not change its virulence; MSSA by itself can be a very serious foe. Yes, there are other changes in some strains, especially the community ones, that do appear to increase virulence, but the original MSSA strain is nothing to trifle with.

Also, here’s an important addition to this unfolding story: My colleagues at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy are keeping track of kid deaths around the country. According to them, these CDC numbers are already out of date; they have uncovered more that the CDC has not yet posted, but may take note of in future weekly updates.

Maryn

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