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Teen with staph infection dies

The 17-year-old was hospitalized for 20 days. Illness can be spread by skin-to-skin contact, dirty towels.

July 25, 2008|Mary Engel | Times Staff Writer

A Downey High School wrestler has died after being hospitalized for 20 days with pneumonia and other complications of a staph infection.

Noah Armendariz, 17, died Sunday at Children's Hospital of Orange County, said his mother, Cynthia Magana.

The infection was caused by methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus, or MSSA, Magana said.

Another form of S. aureus, known as MRSA for "methicillin-resistant," tends to get more publicity because it has grown resistant to methicillin and some other antibiotics. But infectious disease specialists say that both forms can be deadly if they move from the skin, where they normally reside, into the bloodstream and organs.

"The key is invasive," said Dr. Adam Hersh, a pediatric infectious disease fellow at UC San Francisco. "Only a small number of staph infections among children and adolescents become invasive, but both MRSA and MSSA can be very serious infections when they do."

Both can be passed by skin-to-skin contact or by sharing dirty towels, making them common among wrestlers, football players and others who play contact sports. Armendariz developed a rash shortly after returning from a wrestling camp at a Lake Arrowhead high school in June, Magana said. A few days after that, he ran a fever and felt pains in his legs.

But he also had dislocated a shoulder, and the doctors she took him to initially focused on that, she said.

On July 1, he felt chest pains, and Magana took him to the emergency room at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Bellflower.

He was admitted to the intensive care unit and stayed there until he was stable enough to be transferred to Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach, Magana said. He was later transferred to the hospital in Orange County.

Public health experts recommend hand-washing, showering, laundering towels and uniforms in hot water and disinfecting gym equipment to prevent transmission.

They also recommend keeping an eye on rashes and other bumps, especially if they are accompanied by fevers and chills.

--

mary.engel@latimes.com

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