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Old 02-03-2011, 10:07 AM   #1
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Dealing with MRSA? I am overwhelmed, confused, and worried for my kids....

The backstory: My 14 year old stepson had what his mother thought was a brown recluse bite on his knee (she didn't, at that point take him to the doctor ) and dealt with pain and swelling, etc... Finally, the places opened up and the skin blackened on his knee. By the time she took him to the doctor's office they had to cut large chunks out of his knee and they gave him (if I remember what he told me this summer correctly) a week of a strong antibiotic. They told him he had staph. We checked with them often about it but he said he wasn't having any other problems so we assumed it was a "normal" staph infection. Then this fall he sent me a picture of his face and it looked like he had been punched in the eye, very swollen and black. He told me he was going to the doctor, that this had "just happened", and then later told me the doctor said it was an ingrown hair and gave him some medicine to use. This then, later, happened to the other eye but he knew what was happening sooner and I'm not sure if they went back to the doctor or if they used whatever was left of the medicine. I couldn't quite sort that out. Anyway, DH has been home this week (he is gone most of the time with business) and SS asked to stay with us. He was with us from Friday night until yesterday morning. He slept in oldest DS's bed, showered, etc... Yesterday he was going to go to school then back to his mom's. He came to me at breakfast and asked for neosporin. When I asked why he showed me this HUGE cystic place on his calf. He said it was bothering him. It wasn't bleeding or draining anything but the top was shiny (like a pimple before it comes to a head.) As soon as the doctor's office opened I was on the phone with them, this is the same clinic he went to for everything else. I went over his previous visits (the staph this summer, the eye thing) and told them that we didn't really think mom was doing anything more than getting his meds filled. He had seen a nurse practicioner the other times and I asked that he please, PLEASE see one of the two doctors my family sees. We got him an appt and his mom was supposed to meet DH and SS there. The doctor was going to go over cleaning procedures, proper wound care, etc.. with her to make her understand they can't all use the same washcloth for a week, his clothes need to be washed, etc.. (this is an ongoing problem with her.) Also, there is a baby in their home who has had it on her butt for 2 years. We wanted him to talk about spreading the staph, etc. Well, she of course didn't show. She did leave DH a huge balance of unpaid co pays for him to catch SS's account up so that he could be seen.

So, now the doctor can't talk to her. DH again mentioned stepson's previous cases to this doctor. He cuts the cyst or something and squeezes some stuff out that he says it is staph, they will culture it to type it, and then know how to treat. In the meantime he gives SS an ointment, an antibiotic, and a spray for his nose (apparently this stuff can be present in the nose.) The nose spray is something SS has never been given. So......DH fills it all and asks mom to come pick it up after she picks up SS from school. He wants to talk to her in person. He is trying to drag details out of her and says "Did they tell you what KIND of staph it was?" And she says yes, MRSA, but he took his medicine and they told her it would clear it up. Well, yes it will clear it up but you aren't ever CURED from MRSA. We know that and that is just from reading the CDC website She insists it isn't incurable that he "got over it" with that week of meds. Now we are thinking that they told her they would type it and then treat it more aggressively but she probably never went back/called back to get meds or just never went to pick them up.

Everything I've read has said anything from 6 wks of antibiotics to a hospitilization for IV meds, none of it said a generic med for a week. Still she did SAY that she knew the type. DH calls back and speaks to the nurse to confirm this, she flips through the chart and says "Yes, he had MRSA last time." She then confirmed to DH that no you can't cure it, yes it is highly contagious and can be spread via contact with the sore, etc... DH is freaking out. I am freaking out.

I had already left work, gone to the store and bought a bunch of bleach and new (white) towels. All my pretty striped towels are now in the trash I didn't want to ruin them with bleach but no way were we going to use unbleached ones. So now I have bleached the main bathroom we all use, DS's bathroom (they don't really use it except for toileting and handwashing), the kitchen counters, and I've used Lysol to mop our entire main floor (laminate wood flooring.) Now, we already have our home cleaned once a week with disinfectant cleaners and we always wash the kids dirty clothes. We change sheets once a week, more if sick, and I have a strict rule about not using dirty towels or washcloths (way before MRSA I sitll thought that was the heighty of nasty.) Still, his jeans were washed with all of our jeans, he slept in DS's bed WITH DS (they were both wearing shorts so that place was exposed), he showered in our bathroom where my youngest takes a bath and the older two shower...........I washed the towels after use, yes, but just in hot water and hot dry. I didn't bleach. ARGGGG!!!

DH and I both feel like we are waiting on the other shoe to drop. Will one of the kids develop this? I will be so, SO mad if they do. This is life long and (as was for my SS) can be disfiguring. It can also be fatal if it goes to the bloodstream or bones. I am upset that the dr's office didn't see this previous MRSA diagnosis and be more forthright with DH, I am furious that SS's mother thinks you can take amoxicillan or some other random drug and "cure" it, I am scared that one of us will develop this and spend the rest of our lives dealing with it.

Please don't think we are not upset for SS. We are devestated for him. He is 14, almost 15, and has the rest of his life to find "spots" and have them treated. To worry about passing it along and feel like a leper. And, still, even with DH telling her this is incurable but can be managed WITH THE RIGHT STEPS, his mom refuses to believe it's more serious than poison ivy or eczema. She didn't even want his school notified but DH is going to. He plays football and it isn't right for him to be in the weight room and locker room, on the field with MRSA and not at least have the coaches KNOW.

I looked on the net and it said that in the state of TN this was reportable to the CDC but the dr didn't act like he planned to call anyone. Should we? Has anyone had experience with this? Is there something I should do beyond bleaching everything I can and washing throughly anything I can't? What about from here on out? Is there a timeframe we can consider our kids "out of the woods" if they don't exhibit symptoms?

What do we do about him visiting in the future? I guess he needs his own beds and sheets (each of our kids has their own that aren't shared so it wouldn't really be any different.) His own towels?! A friend whose sister is a nurse has it and she cleans her bathroom with bleach after she uses it (but I think now that is only if she is in the midst of a flare up), has her own towels, and monitors her body for any new spots that she goes straight to the doctor with. Therein lies our problem. If he has a new spot develop she WON'T take him to the dr because she REFUSES to believe this will come back. I really think she thinks it is like chicken pox and you are immune after you have it So, he could come to our home already in the contagious stage. At 14/15 what do you do? Ask if he has any spots? Check him over? I mean he's only had it on the one leg but it could show up anywhere on his body now right? I'm certainly not checking him and DH would probably feel uncomfortable doing it at SS's age. I mean, who should have to visually examine a kid for an infectious disease? Which brings me to the last question.......

How do we locate an infectious disease doctor in the Memphis or Nashville area? We are perplexed and agahst at how nonchalant the dr's office has been. They didn't even mention to DH this time about cleaning everything until he said "Don't you have to be vigilant about keeping things clean and disinfected?" and the nurse said "Yeah. If you don't clean really well it will spread." HELLO!!! You need to TELL that not wait for someone to ASK??! They also told DH it is ONLY contagious if the wound is draining but then said as long as he wasn't up walking around to leave it unbandaged. That isn't how I read the CDC and other site information at all. That isn't how my friend's sister was told to treat hers. We are really feeling like the dr's office don't know to much about it and by trusting them to treat this/advise us we are putting ourselves at risk. Can anyone help??

I'm sorry, I know this was long and perhaps disjointed. If you've made it this far, bless you! I am just sick with worry for ALL the kids - SS because we KNOW he has this and it will be up to him (in her home) to try to do what is right and get to the dr if he sees anything else and for our 3 because they don't deserve to have been exposed to this anymore than any other child does. They didn't ask far all this and they live in a clean home that they HELP keep clean I know you can have it in clean homes but I just do feel like this originated because a case was gotten due to being left in filthy diapers and then was passed through unlcean bathrooms/toweling and clothing.
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:14 AM   #2
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Tough situation. Hope you and the family get through this.
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Old 02-03-2011, 11:04 AM   #3
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I think it's important that you speak to an infectious disease specialist just to put your mind at ease. CA MRSA (community acquired MRSA) is far less invasive than HA MRSA (hospital acquired MRSA). Your SS has the CA version and he will be perfectly fine if his care is managed properly. This is not a "devastating" diagnosis by any means. It's much more common than you think. He may have even acquired in the locker room at school. You do not need to contact the school for this. He should be careful in the locker room though. It can take quite some time to clear up but if treated properly it WILL clear up and he will be fine.
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Old 02-03-2011, 11:40 AM   #4
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Thank you for the kind words. Yes, it *is* possible he got it in the locker room. Staph at the high school is not, unfortunately, unheard of. It seems a bit more likely it was acquired at home because he had the full blown open sores and blackened skin very soon after starting the football/visiting the locker room. His cousin lives with them and had had this for a year previously (his mom told us they "kept cutting places off her heiney.") I just figured it was a bit soon for it to have been so bad so quick if he contracted it at school but perhaps not.

I wasn't aware that CA MRSA was less virulent than HA MRSA...that is interesting and it is information I haven't found anywhere. Is it a different strain or just less , mmmm, what's the word? Toxic? Invasive? Neither is right I guess but I don't know what is? But they are both "for life" correct? The doctor did tell us he would continue to experience outbreaks and I don't think he is under the impression it was acquired in hospital. How would we locate an infectious disease doctor? Through the CDC?

DH does plan to tell the coach because, were this reversed, we would want to know our child was in contact with it. They may plan to ignore it or treat it with caution, I certainly doubt he would be kicked off the team (and that is not our intent) but whatever they decide I feel it should be informed. I would feel terrible if we kept this to ourselves and another child developed it. I would forever wonder if he had caught it from SS.
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Old 02-03-2011, 11:52 AM   #5
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I am so sorry you are dealing with this. As for finding a doctor usually I either go through my insurance company's website as they list doctors by specialty then google the ones I find to check their credentials etc. Also if you are near a large teaching hospital you can just go on their website and contact the infectious disease department and they should be able to help you out. Just make sure you check with your insurance to see if you need a referal or not.
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Old 02-03-2011, 02:29 PM   #6
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Thank you. We are near and have visited Vanderbilt before. I also know that LeBonheur is closer to us and wondered if they might have someone. As per the custody agreement mom carries insurance (as I carry ours and she wouldn't provide me any info needed to add him) and we give her 1/2 the cost of the policy as child support. She is VERY difficult to get to cooperate so we might end up having to do this OOP because she probably would have to be present to use his insurance and I bet she will dig her heels in and refuse to go just to be a horse's backside. We've been down that road before. He needed intensive speech therapy as a youngster and DH had to physically go get her and drive her to the appt to have the specialist say he is severly behind and if you don't do this he won't ever speak properly. Even then she refused to take him to the appts and we had to be responsible for going to get him, going to the appt and speaking with the therapist, then taking him back home (Oh, and since she "let" us do this she wanted us to take him out to eat before he got home so she didn't have to feed him.) She's a winner all right.
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Old 02-03-2011, 03:03 PM   #7
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Wow is about all I can say. Your SS is very lucky to have you in his life. Go to either hospital's website and you should easily be able to look up the names of Infectious Disease Specialists on staff. Those are large hospitals and I'm sure they will have more than a few on staff with that specialty. I would highly recommend getting your SS to one of these specialists as well.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:12 AM   #8
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Well, thanks guys, your kind words and support mean a lot. Unfortunately, it may, for now anyway, be a moot point. His mother was, of course, livid that anyone would "question" her living conditions (she has told us we are the only "snobs" she knows who take trash out daily, are concerned with the kids bathing and having clean clothes, and want CLEAN dishes to eat off of ) If this were the first time we've had to take him to the dr to deal with things that hygiene plays a role in then DH wouldn't have blown a fuse but we've been doing this for 13 years (almost 15 for DH.) He had to be re-circumcised a couple of times as a baby and toddler because they would just put a clean diaper on him but not clean HIM up, he got infections of the foreskin and it fused shut (ewww.) IIRC, at THAT time she assured us we were idiots and would feel differently about that once WE had a baby...three kids later and neither of my boys had that issue and DD never had anything "horrid" to deal with either, except a hormonal imbalance after birth (I take full responsibility for that )

So, anyway, she bawled him out and told him how we were just "using him to make her look bad" and he refuses to return DH's calls or texts. I'm sure the outrage and disowning will last a June frost because at some point he is going to want money from DH (lately he has been calling 3 or 4 times a week to ask for "extras") and he will suddenly be over it He forgets we were once teens who didn't need anybody either.

I just wish that SOMEONE had told us his first diagnosis was MRSA. Granted, it wouldn't have changed how SHE dealt with it but it sure would have made me be more vigilant. I'm not sure how we will handle things once the biggest part of the stink has blown over but I know changes will be made. I won't endanger my kids (just like I won't knowingly expose them to someone sick with the flu or stomach virus, just like when DDs best friend had lice we waited a month before getting them together to play - and this was an agreement HER mom made with us because neither family wanted to pass it back and forth. So, um, I guess we aren't the only people who worry about those things....) It has always been hard for me in regards to him, this is DH's son after all and I know he wants to at least try to take care of him, OTOH he has brought lice and scabies into our home when our kids were little (the lice oldest DS did catch but, thankfully, the scabies we somehow managed to avoid) and now an incurable form of staph My heart breaks for him that this sort of thing has happened all his life, will continue to happen as long as he continues to live in squalor, and what teen REALLY understands "resistant" or "dormant"?? What really makes me ill is she has another son who is being brought up the same way and a neice following suit. IQ tests should be mandatory before you can procreate

So, right now we are just laying low and waiting to see how it turns out. If DH were to push harder she would just step up the guilt trip so I guess the best thing is if he lets SS know he can call and then leaves the ball in his court. And, we are, of course wondering just how exposed everyone was. What do we look for on our kids? Every skin irritation or bump is likely to make my heart rate increase for a while... I wonder if an infectious disease dr would see US and let us know what to worry about and what to not worry about?
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:33 AM   #9
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A very tough situation you are in but you are handling it perfectly from what I can see. It is sad for your SS though. Being raised in that type of environment with his mother will only do him further harm. Best of luck to you and speak with a doctor or specialist about your concerns, I'm sure they will put your mind at ease.
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Old 02-04-2011, 12:18 PM   #10
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Sounds like an awful situation for you all. Your SS is in the worst spot at 14.

I wish you all the best, I don't know enough about MSRA to offer any help. Just some thought and prayers.
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Old 02-07-2011, 07:48 PM   #11
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MRSA is much more common than people think. Many of us carry it in our noses, armpits and groin and do not have any ill effects from it. That is why they gave your ss the nasal spray. It was most likely some sort of antibiotic. His infections have not been treated correctly and that is why they keep coming back in different locations. It is not a lifelong sentence though. Given the right medications it can be cleared. It is a long process and proper use of medication, dressing changes if needed and cleanliness are a must. You are correct in thinking that one week of medication is not going to cut it. A 6 week course of antibiotics sounds about right.

As far as protecting yourselves from the infection, you cleaning everything as you did is fine. It has to enter through an opening in your body, such as your nose, or a cut or sore. I would recommend a plastic cover for the mattress that he sleeps on. that way you can wash his pillow and sheets once he leaves. You really just have to be aware of any drainage as that is what will cause the problems. If he doesn't have any active sores, then you can't get it from him.

I hope that you are able to encourage his mother to get her head out of the sand and get him the treatment that he needs to move on from this. Good luck!
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Old 02-07-2011, 08:09 PM   #12
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My DD had it back a few years ago (she was about 18).. she developed it from what we could figure out, from a tanning bed. None of us in the house ever got it. She did keep getting it back for about 3-4 months until we actually took her to an infection control specialist. Our doc was treating her, but she was resistant to the drugs he was using, therefore it kept returning. My son developed it about 8 months ago. Again, no one ever got it from him. He was treated for about 3 weeks and it returned once about 2 months later. He seems to be ok now. Again.. the rest of us have not gotten it.
My nephew, how lives 5 hours away from us was actually the first to have it in our family. He got it about 5 years ago. He was still in high school and playing hockey. His was the worst. He was actually admitted into the hospital and had to have surgery on his arm. He nearly lost his arm due to it. Again, no one in his family got it from him. He as treated about 2 months prior to going into the hospital. Once out of the hospital, it was about another 2 months, but he has never gotten it again.

It is, as another poster mentioned, more common than you think. The only time to really worry about it, as per the doc's to us, is if it gets into your blood stream or lungs. My nephew's did get into the blood which is why he had to have surgery. My kids never did. I do want to stress, that all along while those in our family had it, the other family members never contracted it. Just keep open wounds away from that person, and never share towels. You want to take those same precautions anyway to prevent infection spreading thru your family on anything.. so it really isn't too much different than anything else. Don't panic tooooo much. If it does keep coming back, an infection control specialist is the way to go..
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Old 02-07-2011, 11:59 PM   #13
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Thank you. I know it is getting quite common (though to be honest that does little to make me feel better ) I know that most of what needs to happen (in addition to him actually taking a full course of the correct medicine) is for him to make some HUGE lifestyle changes. Well, his mother should BUT I think at almost 15 he is old enough to assert himself and do things like wash his own clothes, sheets, make sure he has clean towels and washcloths (even if that means he has to hoard 2 or 3 and wash them when they all get dirty....do what you gotta do.) Honestly, that is one thing about that house that drives me batty. They will all use the same towel/washcloth - FIVE people (or more if they have a relative staying.) They just pick up whatever is in the tub/on the floor and start scrubbing. I won't even re-use my OWN washcloth or towel so that really freaks me out. I've preached it and preached it but he won't listen. If I don't LAY OUT clean ones for him here he just uses what he finds in the shower (we hang them on the towel bar to dry before going into the hamper.) I can't even tell him to get clean ones out of the linen closet which is, interestingly, only about 3 steps from the shower. The last argument we had over hygiene was over toothbrushes. It went like this:

Me: (snapping fingers) Oh, here, I need to give you a toothbrush to use.
DSS: Um, I brushed my teeth already.
.............crickets chirping.............
Me: Did you.........BRING a toothbrush? (hits knees, prays fervrently)
DSS: No. I used one on the counter.
Me: What? Those have been used. Which one did you use?
DSS: The green one.
Me: GAAAAH!!! That is MINE!! (throws toothbrush away)
DSS: Oh. Okay.

He informed me that they don't "really keep track of what toothbrush belongs to who, you're CLEANING your teeth with them so they are CLEAN". I don't know, I'm starting to think it's something psychological with them.

OTOH, it seems to be some sort of rural misconception that you can't get sick if the person is a family member. One of DDs best friends was asking her mom for her own drink and she told her to share her brothers. Her exact words were "He's your brother. Ya'll have the same germs." I thought DD would pass out. We always give them different cups so they know which one is their's and don't drink after each other. That freaked me out even as a kid...backwash (ewww)

I think I have settled down somewhat. I mean you can only bleach so much without ruining furnishings LOL and it wasn't draining at all so whenever I feel a germaphobic fit coming on I trot that out and do deep breathing. What I worry about is that he COULD end up with it in his bloodstream (I even read it could end up in your bones) because they aren't going to treat it or make changes.
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Old 02-13-2011, 01:09 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by DipsyDoodles View Post
CA MRSA (community acquired MRSA) is far less invasive than HA MRSA (hospital acquired MRSA). Your SS has the CA version and he will be perfectly fine if his care is managed properly. This is not a "devastating" diagnosis by any means. It's much more common than you think. He may have even acquired in the locker room at school. You do not need to contact the school for this. He should be careful in the locker room though. It can take quite some time to clear up but if treated properly it WILL clear up and he will be fine.

No need to freak out. It sounds like there's a lot of drama associated with the ex wife, but what you need to focus on in relation to your ss and his infections is keeping any wounds he has covered and washing his sheets, towels and clothes separately as well as general cleaning with lysol after his visits. Of course, good hand washing for everyone is always a must. You cannot control the ex and how she is or behaves, so just focus on what you can.

My son had an infection on his knee that was similar. We thought it was MRSA and treated it as if it was (yup, a NP was right on target there), but cultures came back positive for staph but negative for MRSA (methicillin resistant staph). He plays sports in an inside facility. It appeared quickly and was really red, swollen and shiny, and hurt so badly he was in tears. Our pediatrician later explained it's kind of like planting a seed - the ground gets scraped (ie skin) and it just takes a few seeds (germs) to get in, take hold and grow. These germs are everywhere in schools, gyms, locker rooms, etc, so it's not surprising that others pick them up.


BTW I've worked directly with hospital acquired MRSA for over 26 years, even back in the days before we wore gloves and used Universal Precautions. And I've never had an infection nor have I brought any infections home to my family (thanks to good handwashing practices, I'm sure). My sister was also freaking out over MRSA recently when her SO's father developed it in the hospital and she was sure he was going to bring it home to her. Poor SO came to our house over the holidays and she'd made him wear a bandaid over a razor cut on his face, which I appreciated, but assured her it was unnecessary: I'm not worried about getting MRSA via a third party who's simply visited someone in the hospital who had MRSA in his urinary tract. (I'm joking, but I recognize that anxiety related to this is real for many people.)

Good luck with your situation.

Preventing CA-MRSA

■Wash your hands. Careful hand washing remains your best defense against germs. Scrub hands briskly for at least 15 seconds, then dry them with a disposable towel and use another towel to turn off the faucet. Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol for times when you don't have access to soap and water.
■Keep wounds covered. Keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered with sterile, dry bandages until they heal. The pus from infected sores may contain MRSA, and keeping wounds covered will help keep the bacteria from spreading.
■Keep personal items personal. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, sheets, razors, clothing and athletic equipment. MRSA spreads on contaminated objects as well as through direct contact.
■Shower after athletic games or practices. Shower immediately after each game or practice. Use soap and water. Don't share towels.
■Sanitize linens. If you have a cut or sore, wash towels and bed linens in a washing machine set to the hottest water setting (with added bleach, if possible) and dry them in a hot dryer. Wash gym and athletic clothes after each wearing

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Old 02-20-2011, 07:12 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by DipsyDoodles View Post
I think it's important that you speak to an infectious disease specialist just to put your mind at ease. CA MRSA (community acquired MRSA) is far less invasive than HA MRSA (hospital acquired MRSA). Your SS has the CA version and he will be perfectly fine if his care is managed properly. This is not a "devastating" diagnosis by any means. It's much more common than you think. He may have even acquired in the locker room at school. You do not need to contact the school for this. He should be careful in the locker room though. It can take quite some time to clear up but if treated properly it WILL clear up and he will be fine.
CA can be just as bad as HA. That's the probem with MRSA and the 'less virulent' cousin MSSA. Other problem is that CA can look like something else.

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