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How Serious Is Staph Infection?

It killed a teenager in Virginia:

Ashton Bonds, 17, a senior at Staunton River High School in Bedford, Va., died Monday after being hospitalized for a week with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, his mother said.


MRSA is a strain of staph bacteria that does not respond to penicillin and related antibiotics but can be treated with other drugs. The infection can be spread by skin-to-skin contact or sharing an item used by an infected person, particularly one with an open wound.

Many of the infections are being spread in gyms and locker rooms, where athletes -- perhaps suffering from cuts or abrasions -- share sports equipment. Ashton Bonds played football last year but was not playing this season.

Ashton went to Bedford Memorial Hospital on Oct. 4 after complaining of pain in his side, his mother said. He was sent home after doctors ruled out appendicitis, but was readmitted three days later and transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

Last week doctors diagnosed Ashton with a MRSA infection that had spread to his kidneys, liver, lungs and the muscles around his heart.

Early Thursday morning, Ashton had to be sedated and put on a ventilator. He was about to undergo surgery to drain the infection from his lungs when doctors detected a blood clot near his heart. Bonds said the clot was inoperable.

And young people generally have stronger immune systems or regenerative capabilities. A sprained ankle when you're 12 isn't nearly as devastating when you're 32. That's also why the elderly get priority with flu shots. In any case, let this be a warning to those who train or catch this disease: it is not a joke. Take care of yourself.

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