MRSA infections in kids peak during summer

March 11, 2013

Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) appears to show a preference for summer months, putting children at greater risk for soft-tissue infection especially during July and August.

Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) appears to show a preference for summer months, putting children at greater risk for soft-tissue infection especially during July and August.

A recent nationwide study from Johns Hopkins that analyzed data from 2005 through 2009 found that the strain of MRSA usually seen in community settings is more likely to infect children’s skin or soft tissue wounds during the late summer. For example, in 2008 alone, data showed that 74% of children aged younger than 20 years developed an infection with community-acquired MRSA.

The researchers hypothesize that overzealous prescribing of antibiotics for influenza and other respiratory infections during winter months may be the reason why MRSA infections in children peak in the summer. Community-acquired MRSA is resistant to fewer antibiotics, and it’s possible that overprescribing causes the resistance evident in this strain.

The summer strain of MRSA is being seen more frequently in children. In contrast, a winter strain of health care-associated MRSA, typically seen in hospitals and nursing homes, is found to be most prevalent among patients aged 65 and older during February and March.

Overall, MRSA infections are increasing despite efforts to control their spread. Hospitalizations associated with both community-acquired and hospital-acquired MRSA doubled in the United States between 1999 and 2005.

The researchers note that additional research on the seasonal patterns of MRSA infections and their drug resistance may help to develop new treatment guidelines, antibiotic protocols, and infection control programs.