Six newborn babies and six staff members at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh tested positive for the bacterial infection MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), with several more tests pending. One of the NICU patients tested was “potentially symptomatic,” according to a statement released by the hospital.
Symptoms of MRSA typically depend on the part of the body that is infected. It can include swelling, warmth, redness and pain in infected skin, but other cases may mimic symptoms of a spider bite. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you cannot tell if it’s a MRSA or staph infection by simply looking at the skin.
MRSA is difficult to treat because of its antibiotic-resistant nature, but if left untreated it can become severe and cause sepsis. Anyone can get MRSA, but risk increases with activities or places that involve crowding, skin-to-skin contact and shared equipment or supplies, according to the CDC. Athletes, day care and school students, military personnel and patients who receive inpatient medical care or have surgery or medical devices inserted in their body are at high risk of MRSA infection.
“The health and safety of our patients, staff and visitors is our highest priority,” the hospital said. “We’re doing everything we can to care for them. UPMC always follows CDC guidelines, and isolation protocols and infection control procedures are in place. We immediately notified the Allegheny County Health Department and Pennsylvania Department of Health and are collaborating to ensure the safest possible environment for patient care.”
The hospital said that all NICU patients had been tested, and noted that “a portion of the population carry MRSA without ever being symptomatic.”