The number of MRSA cases among children in New York City has doubled in recent years. The infection can potentially become life-threatening.
Children who get methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus infections are often misdiagnosed, doctors say. Kids used to get the infections primarily in hospitals, but now infections can happen where they play.
MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant staph bacterium that usually begins like a pimple but can progress to a life-threatening infection overnight.
Children in particular are especially susceptible, Dr. Mehmet Oz says. The host of "The Dr. Oz Show" says that's because children's immune systems aren't as developed as adults'. He says that if your child, especially a younger one, has a pimple that doesn't improve in several days you should have your doctor check for MRSA.
In 2007, New York City saw 600 reported cases of MRSA in children ages 5 to 18, according to the Department of Health. In 2011, 1,571 cases of MRSA among children were reported out of roughly 15,000 cases overall.
Most cases still occur in health care facilities, but MRSA has spread to the outside community. For kids, this means playgrounds, daycare centers or schools -- anywhere they interact and or can get cuts on their skin.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that MRSA is treatable with more powerful anti-biotic medication, but can return. So the CDC emphasizes prevention by being clean, washing hands and any cuts, and by not sharing equipment or towels especially in contact sports teams.
MRSA is potentially dangerous for anyone with a weak immune system. The head of the National MRSA Survivors Network says it is underreported.
The Network reports that more Americans die every year from invasive MRSA infections than from HIV/AIDS or H1N1 flu.