Staph Pneumonia Rate in Children on the Rise

June 29, 2011

A recent paper presented in the July issue of The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal shows that the rate of pneumonia in children caused by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria has doubled over the past decade.

The study was led by Dr. Maria A. Carrillo-Marquez of the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas.

The study provides an important update on the “clinical characteristics, admission trends, and molecular epidemiology” of S. aureus pneumonia—at least at Texas Children’s Hospital. The findings highlight some key clinical differences in children with pneumonia caused by MRSA or USA300 strains. Dr. Carrillo-Marquez and coauthors call for further studies to determine the best approach to treatment in children with S. aureus pneumonia, particularly when antibiotic-resistant or aggressive strains are present.

Findings indicated that most of the infections were caused by methicillin-resistant S. Aureus (MRSA) and another aggressive bacterial strain called USA300.

The group studied were 117 children hospitalized with staph pneumonia between 2001 and 2009.  Children on mechanical ventilation were excluded.  The median age was under one year.  Most of the children were previously healthy.  Approximately 60 percent required intensive care treatment; 30% required mechanical ventilation.

The analysis of the causative bacteria revealed that three-fourths of the infants had antibiotic-resistant MRSA infections.  The remaining one-fourth were caused by antibiotic-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA).

Severe Infections Caused by USA 300

The majority of the infected infants were infected with USA300, a strain of S. aureus that has been linked to more aggressive infections.  More than 90% of the children with MRSA had this USA300 antibiotic-resistant strain.  These children were more likely to have complicated pneumonia that required video-assisted surgery (VATS) for diagnosis and treatment.

The study also highlights the potential for severe infections caused by USA300, including antibiotic-resistant strains. In some cases, the bacteria were also resistant to clindamycin—a “second-line” antibiotic used to treat MRSA.


In addition to having the S. aureus bacteria, some children also had viral infections, most often the influenza virus.  The children with these infections were more likely to have more severe pneumonia and higher rates of ICU care and respiratory failure.

Source:  Press Release, Rising Rate of Staph Pneumonia in Children.  Newswire, July 29, 2011.

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