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View Full Version : Has anyone ever gotten a staph infection from a cruise ship pool or hot tub?


vossjemi
08-18-2008, 02:39 PM
We were on the Magic 8/3-8/10 cruise. We had a terrific cruise. Great weather. Great servers. Great entertainment. Great excursions. We all really had a fabulous time. Even my poor baby would say she had a fabulous time despite the painful experience she had.

But (isn't there always one with a thread of this kind)? Anyway, the but is my DD8 contracted a staph infection while on the cruise. She started out with 4 bug bites of some kind on the back of her right thigh. I thought mosquito bites. My DH thought perhaps she had been bitten by a spider as one of the bites had a little hole in it so he worried about brown recluse and all. The bug bites started to swell up and get red & irritated. Now, we brought the whole dang medicine cabinet but forgot our anti-itch creme!

She started complaining that it was difficult to sit down and on Mazatlan day we took her to the ship health ctr to see what they recommended. A nurse just looked at her and sold my dh some anti-itch creme and benadryl. She took that and it started to feel better but thigh was still getting redder and bigger like a goose egg. She was limping now. By the next evening, I noticed a blackness underneath the skin under the biggest bite & she was starting to get fever. We did have ibuprofen which I gave her, but ship dr. closed until am. First thing in the am, back to ship dr. But before we could get there, her leg started literally dripping blood and ooze from the bite area. She did see a ship dr. this time and he diagnosed boil. Said she didn't have bites. Weird cuz I know what bug bites look like and that is what she had. He was gentle with her and squeezed as much ooze/blood out of her leg as he could. (Didn't use gloves/universal precautions though!) He prescribed some zithromax and told us to keep her out of youth activities and pool for rest of cruise. This was on Friday morning with the last 2 days being Sea Days. We were also to come back Sat morning for eval.

We brought her back Sat morning, and this time 3 drs saw her. They changed diagnosis from boil to staph infection. They did say she probably did have bug bites that just got infected. The also again told us to keep her out of the pools/hot tubs. And, again they squeezed as much blood/ooze out of her main bite as they could (again no gloves..weird!) Finally, they prescribed bactrum for her to take. Also my dh said it was the nurses who used gloves and made suggestions to the drs about possible diagnosis too. As my dh was leaving the health ctr, an older gentlemen was coming in complaining of the same thing...oozing sore on his arm.

This got me thinking. My husband has always thought pools/hot tubs are a cesspool of germs. Couldn't get him in them except for once the entire cruise. They did drain the Mickey Pool at least twice that I know of for "environmental reasons". Could my daughter have picked up the staph infection from the pools/hot tubs? She did play in both the Mickey Pool and the Goofy Pool and the Goofy Pool Hot Tubs. Do any of you medical people out there know if by scratching her bug bites any pool/tub bacteria like staph could have gotten in there and caused such an infection? We don't know what the other gentleman's diagnosis was, and no she wasn't ever in the pools/hot tubs again after we saw the black mark under her skin Thurs night. She didn't start oozing until Fri morning. We would never knowingly pass something like that on to somebody.

When we got home, I did do some research on spider bites. Brown Recluse seem to get much bigger necrotic area and much faster than hers did. Her biggest sore was about adult baby fingernail size. We took her to our dr. here at home and she said without a culture done at the time, it would be difficult to know now for sure whether it was staph infection or poisonous spider bite (although prob not brown recluse since didn't progress as fast as those do). You see we had 3 days after cruise at Disneyland (she didn't ride water rides there either and we had to get her a stroller because there is no way she could have walked all over the parks limping) She also couldn't do the water park at Howard Johnson's that we had specifically booked for that reason. We applied the ointment/gauze/ace bandage several times a day and she took the antibiotics they gave her and eventually all 4 bites did ooze, but none worse than the first one.

Slowly they stopped oozing, and yesterday was the first day we could leave her unbandaged. They are now starting to scab over. But, the skin around it looks very red like it may scar. We are in process of submitting bills to trip insurance, so I'm not really concerned about reimbursement. I just mainly wondered if this has happened to anyone before while on a cruise ship & if you felt you got it from the pools/hot tubs. When I heard staph, I almost freaked out because I have heard of people dying from that.

Thanks.

Olga
08-18-2008, 03:03 PM
I'm with your husband in that they are a cesspool of germs and for that reason I do not go in, too many people from too many places are in there.
Sorry that happened to your daughter, good to know that she is on the mend.

cyndifan
08-18-2008, 04:04 PM
That's awful that your DD went through all that. Skin infections are not fun at all.

I do know that when you scratch bug bites & such, you risk creating an opening in the skin. This is especially true w/the way little ones scratch - really hard & lots of times. When there's an opening in the skin, any bacteria/fungus/virus around may take the opportunity take up residence - resulting in an infection. This can even happen with the bacteria that's normally present on the top of your skin & is fine that way (not creating any problems). The problems arise when there's an opening in the skin & things get into places where they don't belong. There are different types of bacteria in watery places (hot tubs, pools, etc.) vs what you would find in dry areas of course. Different medications are needed to fight the water 'buggies' vs what would be used to fight the other kinds. I really can't speak about whether there are more 'buggies' (or worse) to be found in pools & such vs what you would find on dry surfaces or just floating through the air.

We had a situation a few years back where our DD developed cellulitis (requiring hospitalization & IV antibiotics) from scratching a bug bite. We never got a positive culture, but we think it developed from the strep infection she had at the time. She had been putting her fingers in her mouth & then scratching - cross contaminating the bug bite w/the strep bug from her mouth. The day before (or 2 days, I forget) she was diagnosed w/cellulitis, the dr thought her bites were ok (& her quick test for strep (in her mouth) was negative). That night, the infected bite was much worse & had grown dramatically. I say all this to point out skin infections can be difficult to diagnose at 1st. DD still has very stong reactions to bug bites, we just have to watch her & try to keep her from scratching them so much & make sure to keep them covered.

I can't imagine going through what we did w/our DD had it been in the midst of a cruise. Glad things are getting better.

TCKLdisney
08-18-2008, 05:50 PM
As a healthcare professional, I can tell you that community acquired staph infections are a big concern. We are given signs and symtoms to look out for on pt. It is becoming a common diagnosis that all ERs are seeing. One of the things they have us watch for are "boils". It can be very scary!
I am glad to hear your DD is responded to treatment.

BabyFavorite
08-18-2008, 06:08 PM
Gosh, I'm so sorry that happened to you guys! How miserable! My daughter ended up with shingles (also miserable--and painful) on a vacation a few years ago, and it's so hard to be far from home and not quite know what's wrong or how to treat something when you're unsure.

We were on the same cruise as you, and I know the pools were drained a few times but never knew why. Pools/jacuzzis make me nervous (germ-wise), as well. My kids were in them CONSTANTLY, though. Aside from a bad case of swimmer's ear (just took my daughter to the ER for it yesterday, in fact!), they didn't contract any illnesses.

My son had a staph infection on his arm about a year ago; he called me from school (and he NEVER likes to miss classes) to say his "bug bite" was itching a lot and he didn't know what to do. I asked him to put the school sec'y on the phone and asked her how it looked. She said it was very inflamed and had a ring around it (or something, can't remember now). I googled it and brown recluse was the first thing that popped up! I left work and rushed him to the doctor. Right away, she determined it was a staph infection, which got there through the broken skin of a bug bite. She made me keep him home for 2 days even!

Anyway, I'm bothered that it took so many visits to get a diagnosis and that your daughter had to suffer so much. And NO gloves?!?! What's up with that?! Doesn't sound very sanitary or cautious (or legal). Sheesh.

BabyFavorite
08-18-2008, 06:10 PM
Cyndifan -- A good friend of mine just spent 9 days in the hospital with cellutitis, and they weren't sure she'd survive! She's still very weak and sick, actually. SCARY, SCARY stuff! They thought hers got into her skin through a cracked heel, of all things.

No wonder I'm so paranoid of illnesses! Bug bites and cracked heels can practically turn into something deadly, you know?!

I'm glad your daughter is okay!!!!

SaratogaShan
08-18-2008, 06:50 PM
Anyway, I'm bothered that it took so many visits to get a diagnosis and that your daughter had to suffer so much. And NO gloves?!?! What's up with that?! Doesn't sound very sanitary or cautious (or legal). Sheesh.

It often DOES take several visits to get a diagnosis. I can see this happening on a ship because they have no way to send out a wound culture, they must rely exclusively on presenting symptoms.

However, I am extremely bothered by the lack of universal precautions (gloves). If some one came in with MRSA (really bad news :sad2: ) the medical staff could spread it to others very easily without gloves/proper handwashing!

Bactrim was the proper treatment of choice, and I'm glad that your DD is better. Hugs to you all.

Shan

vossjemi
08-19-2008, 09:44 AM
Thanks for all the well wishes and concern for my daughter. I too thought it strange that the drs. didn't use gloves! EEK! The drs were from France and South America and I wonder if they were just not trained on universal precautions? The nurses seemed American and they were wearing gloves.

I was really proud of my daughter. She was a real trooper. She's just not a complainer and even the drs who treated her were amazed at her good spirits. As for scratching her bug bites, she really didn't that I could tell. She was really good about leaving them alone & we covered them with bandaids before the whole eruption thing happened anyway. I was just mainly curious if anyone had ever gotten a staph infection on a ship like this before. It will certainly make me think twice about public pools/hot tubs in the future; especially if there is any kind of broken skin issue w/my kids. I guess I was kind of linking it to that since the drs told her to stay out of them I'm presuming so she wouldn't spread it to others, so I thought maybe that was how she got it in the first place.

cyndifan
08-19-2008, 09:48 AM
Cyndifan -- A good friend of mine just spent 9 days in the hospital with cellutitis, and they weren't sure she'd survive! She's still very weak and sick, actually. SCARY, SCARY stuff! They thought hers got into her skin through a cracked heel, of all things.

No wonder I'm so paranoid of illnesses! Bug bites and cracked heels can practically turn into something deadly, you know?!

I'm glad your daughter is okay!!!!

Thanks for that.

Yeah, it was pretty nerve wracking to spend several days in the hospital w/a little one (2-3 yrs old at the time). Besides getting the IV started in the poor little thing, the worst part was the dr saying we'd try on abx to start & if that didn't work, we'd have to go to the 'next level'. That next one had some pretty nasty side effects. Thankfully, the 1st one worked.

Its just amazing how complicated something can get from one little wound! MRSA, Staph, Cellulitis.......scary!

vossjemi
08-19-2008, 09:50 AM
Sorry for your daughter's cellulitis issues too. Medical issues are just scary when its your child. I kept telling my daughter I'd take the hit for her if I could, and she'd laugh saying she'd let me if she could!

By the way, anyone know how to upload a picture from desktop? I took about 6 pictures of her leg that I could post that is if anyone can stand the gore!

cyndifan
08-19-2008, 09:53 AM
Thanks for all the well wishes and concern for my daughter. I too thought it strange that the drs. didn't use gloves! EEK! The drs were from France and South America and I wonder if they were just not trained on universal precautions? The nurses seemed American and they were wearing gloves.

I was really proud of my daughter. She was a real trooper. She's just not a complainer and even the drs who treated her were amazed at her good spirits. As for scratching her bug bites, she really didn't that I could tell. She was really good about leaving them alone & we covered them with bandaids before the whole eruption thing happened anyway. I was just mainly curious if anyone had ever gotten a staph infection on a ship like this before. It will certainly make me think twice about public pools/hot tubs in the future; especially if there is any kind of broken skin issue w/my kids. I guess I was kind of linking it to that since the drs told her to stay out of them I'm presuming so she wouldn't spread it to others, so I thought maybe that was how she got it in the first place.

That's something really good to know to look out for - dr's w/no gloves. I ceratinly hope we don't have to make a visit there, but if we do, we'll certainly insist they wear gloves!!

You can pick up Staph just about anywhere - school, work, hospital, cruise ship, etc.

You are correct though about staying out of water situations w/open skin lesions. That's been one of the things stressed to me when I had an infected finger over Thanksgiving (darn, no washing those dishes!) & just recently when I had an infected toe.

cruisinmama06
08-19-2008, 10:19 AM
Yes Staph can infect any wound. So it would make sense that it was a big bite at first, then became infected.

My father lost a leg to staph (broke his ankle, had surgery, contracted staph, lost his leg) so I know how scary it can be if it isn't diagnosed correctly.

Luckily your daughter is on the mend. Be careful if you are putting cream on her if you have any broken skin on your hands....cause then you could contract it.

To upload pictures, you can use a free host like www.photobucket.com

Upload the pictures there, then post the IMG code here. I would put a warning in the title before you post it though...lol.

JNorris
08-19-2008, 07:14 PM
About 4 years ago, I got a spider bite on my forehead that became red and itchy and inflamed after about 4 days. My doctor told me it was a staph infection, and that staph bacteria live on all of our bodies all the time, so that's why it is so important to clean even the smallest wound. I sure learned my lesson; took 3 different antibiotics, and they almost put me in the hospital. My whole face swelled up like I had been punched, and then the swelling moved down into my eyes, sinuses, etc.

I would assume that if the pool was properly sanitized, any bacteria such as staph would not be an issue. At least that's what I hope, since I own a pool. But to be honest, I'm glad my DD does not like to swim in the crowded pools on the cruise ship!

flexsmom
08-19-2008, 07:41 PM
Just a comment on the universal precautions - my doctor and his nurses never wears gloves when inspecting things like this. They do wash their hands thoroughly before conducting an exam - and then afterwards - and it never occurred to me that it was odd that they weren't wearing gloves, so I don't know that it is "mandatory" for a doctor to wear gloves for something like this. We were just in for a MRSA scare with my son, in fact, after a scratch on his torso became infected, so I have a fresh memory of there not being gloves involved. We live in VA close to wear a MRSA death occurred last year, so with all the media coverage, I knew what to look for. It was a bad infection, but not staph or MRSA, fortunately.

vossjemi
08-20-2008, 11:49 AM
Inspecting, maybe, but she was oozing blood and pus. AND the dr laid her down on her stomach so he could literally squeeze as much of it out of her as he could. He was gentle enough not to hurt her, but the nurse had gauze pads (she used gloves) to wipe away all the drainage. I just thought it odd that the dr would risk coming into contact with those bodily fluids.

Now, when I throughout the trip had to do same thing, of course I didn't wear gloves. I didn't have any, and I did thoroughly wash my hands both before and after, and I was very careful and didn't ever actually touch or come into contact with the drainage except for it being on the gauze pads (which I only touched the back side of). But, it just seemed odd to me when you have drainage of this sort. It wasn't just a drop or two. It filled the gauze pad.

kcashner
08-20-2008, 12:35 PM
I think most of the important issues have been covered already...since one poster finally remarked that we all carry various strains of staph on our skin at all times. There are very virulent strains that are resistant to many common antibiotics, but that is a different story.....

The pools are drained regularly for cleaning under normal circumstances, and extra cleanings occur if there is any evidence of bodily waste in them (most commonly the Mickey pool). They meet all the same standards for cleanliness and water treatment as are required for pools in the United States...even though they are not required to do so.

I'm really sorry about your daughter and her experience. However, the instruction to keep her out of the pools was to prevent any possibility of spreading the infection to another guest by that route--it can never be proven where/how she got the infection. The most likely source was her normal skin bacteria getting into the subdermal layers thru the bug bite opening.

Obviously, the lack of gloves bothers me....makes me wonder what else wasn't being done properly (like handwashing!) However, the gloves would have been to protect the doctors, not your daughter.

I really hope she's doing better now!

PoppyGirl
08-20-2008, 01:13 PM
Last summer I had a deer tick bite and contracted lymes disease AND cellulitis at the site. It was EXCRUCIATINGLY painful. Lymes doesn't hurt at all (at least at the bite or from the rash) but the cellulitis was unbearable. I had no idea I could have ended up in the hospital from that infection. I'm so glad your DD is better!

Frye7127
08-20-2008, 01:26 PM
We were on the July 20 cruise and I can honestly say that I got bitten by mosquitos while watching Pirates of the Caribbean both nights. Those boogers can find me anywhere!

One particularly hot day, my son was sliding so we decided to get into the pool and watch him. When I saw down into the water, something got in my swimsuit and bit me on the bum! It almost felt like maybe a jellyfish and it was very painful. My husband looked at it that night because it hurt and he didn't see anything. The next day we were in Puerto Vallarta and went to the Westin for a day of vegging out by a big pool. When I got into the water, I was on fire. My husband looked again, and there was huge red area that was striated and hot to the touch. It took over a week to get over it. It finally scabbed over and healed. Never could figure out what was in the pool for that to happen.

vossjemi
08-20-2008, 01:45 PM
Wow, sure sounds like a jellyfish. I think vinegar is supposed to help that, but I suppose you didn't exactly have that in your carry on? lol

Anyway, yes, its mostly been covered in that we'll probably never really know for sure how she got it, and by posting here, I was wondering if anyone else had contracted staph either on our cruise or other cruises, and if they thought it was via pool/hot tub. But, so far, no responses in the affirmative, so I guess we were just the "unlucky" ones that it happened to on this occasion.

She really is doing much better...well except for a little mishap last night! My 22 month old baby accidentally knocked over a dining room table chair on my DD8's foot last night. Landed right on her big toe. A little blood under the nail. Gosh I'm hoping it doesn't get infected!:eek: Same darn leg. I just hope that it doesn't get all red and like bleeding under the nail where we have to go to dr. and relieve pressure under the nail! I know she won't be happy if she loses the nail either. She's had a bad turn of luck lately! And school starts tomorrow!

disneynewbee
08-20-2008, 01:45 PM
Yikes now you have me nervous. My 5yo dd got staph infection at the gym she was doing gymnastics at. She had all the same things as your dd. It was so painful for her I felt so bad. When we would have to drain it she would scream like someone was murdering her. I know I never ever want to have that experience again. Her doctor was very careful with gloves and she also made me come back almost daily to make sure it was healing and not getting worse. She was on oral antibiotics and had an ointment too. We would have to drain it when it got real bad and we were always careful to use gloves and wash anything that it may have touched. She had three bumps on her inner leg and one was way worse than the others. I'm glad your dd is doing better and I really hope this was an isolated incident.