CDC Starts National Anti-MRSA Campaign

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has begun a national campaign to teach parents how to keep their children safe from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. "MRSA, a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics, has been in the news because it can cause severe infections in health care settings, such as hospitals. But parents may not be aware that it can also cause skin infections in otherwise healthy people who haven't recently been hospitalized," CDC said in its announcement.

Called the National MRSA Education Initiative, the campaign asks parents to teach their kids about signs and symptoms of MRSA skin infections, help them keep their cuts and scrapes clean and covered with bandages, and encourage good hand washing and general hygiene. CDC estimates Americans visit doctors more than 12 million times per year for skin infections typical of those caused by staph bacteria -- and in some parts of the country, more than half of the skin infections are MRSA, according to the announcement.

The campaign will use Web sites, fact sheets, new blogs, media interviews, brochures, posters, radio ads, and print public service announcements distributed as widely as possible, including to community and school groups, faith-based organizations, professional organizations, and national health conferences.

"Well-informed parents are a child's best defense against MRSA and other skin infections," said Dr. Rachel Gorwitz, a pediatrician and medical epidemiologist with CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. "Recognizing the signs and receiving treatment in the early stages of a skin infection reduces the chances of the infection becoming severe or spreading." MRSA spreads through direct contact with another person's infection, sharing personal items such as towels or razors that have touched infected skin, or by touching surfaces contaminated with MRSA. The campaign was developed with support from the CDC Foundation through an educational grant from Pfizer Inc. For more information, call 800-CDC-INFO or visit www.cdc.gov/MRSA.

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