MRSA and cloth diapers
March 10, 2009 12:26 PM   Subscribe

My daughter has MRSA. Is it possible she picked it up from the cloth diapers from the diaper service?

Recently, my daughter got a sore in the diaper area that turned out to be MRSA. Is it likely she picked this up from the cloth diapers we received from the diaper service? We have been using the service for two years without problems.

I am considering discontinuing the diaper service and moving to disposable diapers. Would you do this? There is no other diaper service in town and I refuse to buy and wash cloth diapers myself. I would prefer not to do switch for environmental reasons, but I don't want to endanger my daughter's health.

She also attends day care, so that is another way she could have picked this up.
posted by crazycanuck to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
It's far more likely that she picked this up from daycare. MRSA is extremely contagious. A lot of staph bacteria lives inside noses. Kids pick their noses and hey, presto! Staph also loves unclean conditions and, as a former daycare worker, I can tell you that a lot of places aren't as clean as you think. Add a gaggle of children to the mix, and it's a recipe for MRSA.
posted by katillathehun at 12:33 PM on March 10, 2009

Its probably the daycare. My sister got a dysentery at the daycare where she worked. Terrible unclean places.
posted by zia at 12:44 PM on March 10, 2009

There's really no telling where she picked it up...or when. MRSA can linger in your system for a long, long time before exploding. Or, it may never express itself.

Our son contracted MRSA completely out-of-the-blue a couple of years ago. Just one day his finger looked a little red and was a bit stiff. The next day it was swelling like a balloon and hurt like hell. He had surgery that evening to save the finger. He's fine now, but it was scary as hell how quickly MRSA can attack.

I wish your daughter all the best.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:47 PM on March 10, 2009

Another factor to consider: is your daycare truly on board with the cloth diapers? If they're not, they may not be changing them as frequently as they should.

Cloth diaper companies are held to pretty strict standards regarding cleanliness; otherwise, they'd be tremendous vectors of disease. Wouldn't hurt to let your doc know that you use a service, in case other cloth-diapered kids start coming in with the same condition.

As others have said, it's likely going to be difficult / impossible to figure out where this came from. Unless there's an outbreak, more than likely it's always going to fall into the "idiopathic" category. Be ready to advocate for aggressive treatment if you think your doctor isn't taking this seriously enough. Start thinking about alternate childcare in case she's banned from daycare during the recovery period. And maybe switch to disposables in the interim, to avoid any possibility of cross-infection. Seventh Generation and its ilk are pretty "green" and have, arguably, roughly the same impact as cloth- the cotton growing, the truck, the washing all add up.

I hope that your daughter gets well soon.
posted by charmcityblues at 1:00 PM on March 10, 2009

Response by poster: We use disposable at the daycare but cloth at home. Her doctor wrote her a note clearing her to attend daycare (???) when the skin infection was initially diagnosed last week. Selfish parents we are, we covered the wound and sent her. I'll blame the daycare.

The infection part is looking better with treatment but she still points to the diaper area and says "hurts" at diaper change. I'll call the nurse at the doctor's office and see if we need to bring her back before the follow up appointment.
posted by crazycanuck at 1:34 PM on March 10, 2009

As another parent who also uses cloth diapers, if your daughter currently has MRSA I'd rather you not use the diaper service until you are sure it's cleared up.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:47 PM on March 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

MRSA is antibiotic-resistant but pretty well killable outside the body. If your diaper service is cleaning those diapers well enough for them to not be stained and/or stinky it's FAR more likely that the staph got to your daughter via an unwashed hand at day care than via a cloth diaper.

Why screw around, though? You should quiz both your diaper provider AND your day care about their sanitizing policies. Does the diaper company use bleach? Are the care providers required to wash their hands before and after diapering your child?
posted by phearlez at 2:05 PM on March 10, 2009

If you can honestly say you have never sneezed while changing her diapers, or changed her without washing your hands (having blown your nose), then certainly look for the reason at the daycare or diaper service. If changing either of these reassures you, then do so.

20% of us have MRSA in our noses. You, the daycare staff, your partner....
posted by Wilder at 4:00 PM on March 10, 2009

MRSA is everywhere. With an open wound, she could have picked it up from anywhere. Even if you were an infectious disease epidemiologist, you wouldn't be able to pin the blame anywhere, because the n = 1.
posted by tiburon at 5:05 PM on March 10, 2009

most diaper services sanitize the heck out of the diapers they use. it's probably not the diapers.

p.s. i wash cloth diapers myself at home. it's not as hard or gross as you might think.
posted by fancyoats at 6:26 PM on March 10, 2009

While I agree that it's impossible to tell for sure, I'm going to agree with others who say it's far more likely it's the daycare. Any cloth diaper service worth its salt washes the diapers in huge industrial strength washers with chlorine bleach in the hottest water you've ever heard of. Ain't nothin' living through that.
posted by katyggls at 7:57 PM on March 10, 2009

The diaper service uses bleach and strong detergent; that's how the diapers arrive so nice & white. They almost certainly also use hot water and several rinses to get the bleach and strong detergent out.

If there's any chance the child care center is not extremely rigorous about hand-washing and changing protocol, consider another child care provider. Go visit, check it out, talk to the staff.
posted by theora55 at 2:59 PM on March 11, 2009

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