Readers, once again there’s a lot of MRSA-related news piling up, and I’ll try to roll some of it out over the next few days. But first, today we have to deal with an event that many of us have been anticipating, though not with any pleasure: the first known report of a MRSA death secondary to H1N1 “swine” flu infection.
We’ve talked about this possibility for weeks, because bacterial pneumonia, especially due to MRSA, is a known and frequently deadly follow-on to flu infection. (Archive of posts here.) With swine flu so common, CDC has said several times that they have been looking for post-flu bacterial pneumonia, but had not seen it. And commenters to this blog have relayed rumors — or, to be more precise, stories with no names attached — of flu patients so ill with MRSA that they have to be put on an ECMO, what we used to call a “heart-lung machine,” and sometimes do not come off.
Today, however, the Buffalo News carries the story of a New York State teen’s death from MRSA pneumonia as a sequela of flu:
Matthew Davis was a healthy Buffalo teenager who participated in sports before complaining of headaches June 13.
Within a few days, the 15-year-old student at Harvey Austin School 97 on Sycamore Street arrived seriously ill at Women & Children’s Hospital and then died Saturday, making him the first known fatality in Erie County caused by swine flu, officially known as novel H1N1 influenza.
… By the time Matthew entered the hospital, he was seriously ill with the flu, as well as co-infected with a type of bacteria known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, according to health officials. (Byline Henry L. Davis)
Under normal circumstances — as in, during the past flu season — the public health advice has been to protect against MRSA pneumonia by getting a flu shot, which by preventing flu prevents the microtrauma to the lungs that allows MRSA and other bacteria to gain a foothold. In this case, though, with no H1N1 vaccine available, ir’s not clear what protective actions could have been taken.
Still, it’s terribly sad.