Possible MRSA infection in Tampa Bay and MRSA precautions

3:51 PM, Feb 18, 2010   |    comments
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Jason Higginson

LAKELAND, Florida - He went from a seemingly healthy dad to dead in just five days.

According to Jason Higginson's father, the active 30-year-old died suddenly after a sneak-attack from the antibiotic-resistant staph infection MRSA.

The Medical Examiner's report isn't complete yet, but doctors told the family that Jason may have had a small cut (possibly from running the family's air conditioning-repair company) infected.  The MRSA could then enter the bloodstream and attack his organs.

He first made a visit to the emergency room on Jan. 26 because of a sore shoulder.  There's no telling if it was MRSA-related or unrelated, but doctors treated the shoulder.  The infection wasn't discovered until Jan. 29.  He passed away on Feb. 1.

"Five days," Jason's father Tom said from his Lakeland home.  "I thought he maybe had a pulled muscle or something."

Jason leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter and lots of questions as to how he could have died so suddenly.

Hospitals can't comment on specific patients because of privacy issues, but a spokeswoman from Lakeland Regional said sometimes illnesses happen so quickly, there's very little anyone can do about them.

Daniel Haight, the director of the Polk County Health Department, agreed.

"Usually, MRSA stays in the skin," he said, "but if it gets into the bloodstream, it can make a person very sick very quickly."

Haight added that MRSA is showing up more and more and nearly half of Americans now carry the infection, even though they never even know it.

The key to staying safe is preventing it from entering the bloodstream.  Haight suggests cleaning cuts on hands to avoid infection.

He also said that because MRSA is typically only spread in extremely close-quarters like at a gym, a hospital, or in an athletic venue, people don't need to worry much about getting MRSA at schools or offices.

"It's typically close contact like in sports or when skin is already blistered and coming in contact with someone else who has it," Haight added.

You can read more about MRSA on the Florida Department of Health's website.

Follow 10 Connects reporter Noah Pransky on Twitter at www.twitter.com/noahpransky, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/noahpransky.

Noah Pransky, 10 Connects

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