Physicians Urge Parents to Remain Calm About MRSA

Physicians at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital would like to reassure the community and encourage schools, parents and the general public to remain calm about Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus  (MRSA).

“Community acquired MRSA is a common cause of skin infections that can be treated with oral antibiotics,” said Karen Dahl, M.D., division chief, infectious disease, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “Disinfecting school walls, cancelling activities and panicking is not the way to handle the current situation. Our community hasn’t experienced anything new in the past two weeks. Community acquired MRSA has been around for 10 years.”

The best ways to prevent MRSA include:

Personal Hygiene

  • Shower daily and after working out. Dry off with your own clean towel and put on clean clothing.
  • Refrain from sharing personal items like towels, wash cloths, bar soap and razors – even among family members.
  • Keep a barrier between skin and shared surfaces, such as gym equipment.
  • Wash hands before preparing food, before eating, before and after touching wounds or bandages, after using the restroom, after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

Wound Care

  • Keep scrapes and cuts covered with a bandage.
  • Change the bandage frequently and wash your hands immediately.


  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as door knobs, telephones and sports equipment.

“MRSA is spread by direct contact,” added Dahl. “I have treated patients with MRSA for years and have never been infected because I take precautions. Hand washing is the single best way to prevent the spread of MRSA. As a board certified pediatric infectious disease specialist, I echo what the Kent County Health Department has said – this is not an emergency situation.”

Most parents have no cause for concern. However, parents should contact their child’s physician if:

  • A child has an area of skin that’s red, painful, swollen, and/or filled with pus.
  • A child has inflamed skin and is also feverish or feels sick.
  • Skin infections seem to be passing from one family member to another or if two or more family members have skin infections at the same time.

Numerous resources are available for additional information and include: (click on “Kids’ Corner”)

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is a Grand Rapids-based hospital serving children throughout Michigan. A teaching hospital, it includes more than 150 pediatric specialty physicians with specialized training in providing medical and surgical care to children in more than 40 pediatric specialties. We care for 7,600 children on an inpatient basis and 190,000 children at outpatient sites annually. The staff at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is committed to caring for children and families with compassion, excellence and innovation. The children’s hospital is one of seven hospitals in the Spectrum Health system.