A new study from the John Hopkins Center, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology shows there is a seasonal pattern in the rate of MRSA infections in both the elderly and in children.
The study looked at national hospitalization data and antibiotic resistance gathered in the years 2005-2009. Statistical analysis showed that seniors and children had a higher risk for getting MRSA at different times of the year. Additionally, each were afflicted by a different strain of MRSA.
Kids are at higher risk for MRSA in the summer
For children, the highest numbers of MRSA related infections occurred in late summer in the months of July and August. Their infections first started as a simple skin scrape or wound, which later became infected with MRSA.
Data showed the MRSA strain that infected children was most often caused by CA-MRSA, a strain of MRSA picked up in public places. The study authors also found that for a one year period in 2008, 74% of MRSA infections for those under the age of 20 were caused by the CA-MRSA strain.
Seniors have a greater infection risk in the winter months
MRSA infections for seniors were different, with the highest number of cases being reported in the winter time during February and March. Seniors over 65 years were most often infected with HA-MRSA, a type that is picked up in hospitals and nursing homes. This strain of MRSA is typically more resistant to antibiotics than the community form of MRSA.
While the seasonal difference between children and seniors is not entirely clear, Dr. Klein believes that the increased (and incorrect) use of antibiotics is likely responsible. Antibiotics are prescribed more in winter time for influenza and other ailments in which they do not work. This sets the stage for increasing numbers of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
“Over prescribing antibiotics is not harmless,” author Eili Y Klein notes.“Inappropriate use of these drugs to treat influenza and other respiratory infections is driving resistance throughout the community, increasing the probability that children will contract untreatable infections.”
The study authors also noted that hospitalizations related to MRSA infections DOUBLED in the US between 1999 and 2005, with the rising numbers due to the spread of community MRSA in public areas.
These infections can come in many different forms. Click here to know what signs and symptoms to watch for.
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To your best health,
Johns Hopkins Medicine, Strains of Antibiotic-Resistant ‘Staph’ Bacteria Show Seasonal Preference; Children at Higher Risk in Summer, 2/28/13.