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.