Ark. family warns against dangers of staph infections

Staph infections are something alarming that can happen to just about anyone and can cost you your life if left untreated.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Staph infections are something alarming that can happen to just about anyone and can cost you your life if left untreated.

The infections can happen to people at any age.

"All I was thinking was how much more downhill can this go? I didn't want to end up dead at 13," said the now 16-year-old Caleb Whitmore as he looked back to when he got a staph infection.

"We were really concerned whether or not he was going to make it through it," said his mother Karon Whitmore.

Whitmore has a blog about the family's experience.  There is a bar in Caleb's chest from a previous procedure. After it healed for a while, he did what some teens do in the summer.  Things quickly went downhill after that.

"I just went to the lake. I started having really bad pains in my back and I couldn't breathe," said Caleb.

"I kind of saw some redness around the incision and then it kind of looked puffy and then when I touched it, I noticed some green ooze," said Karon.

After they waited for test results, it finally came back as a staph infection. Caleb took antibiotics for weeks.

"They inserted a pick line from his arm down to his chest right above the heart," said Karon.

Caleb took IV antibiotics for another nine weeks and then oral antibiotics for another three months before it cleared. The story did not end there. Karon's daughter Hannah also got a staph infection, but from a spider bite.

"We didn't treat it as aggressively as we should have," said Karon.

Hannah's was not like Caleb's infection and it did not take long to clear up.

So, is there a way to prevent staph infection?

"Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot that you can do as a parent to avoid it," said Dr. Carrie Brown, a pediatrician at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

She suggested that parents keep their kids' nails cut short and remind them not to scratch.

"This is the time of year when kids are getting a lot of cuts, scratches, and scrapes, things that are itchy," said Dr. Brown.

Dr. Brown said sometimes it is a bacterium you can get from other surfaces. She explained it is also more commonly seen in the summer because kids are close together, it's warm, and they are outside more. You can also get it by working out, wrestling, or when the skin is broken and it gets inside.

"Hopefully we don't ever have to deal with staph again. Staph is an ugly word in our house," said Karon.

Karon and her family now take extra precautions.  To avoid getting staph from her kids, she washed her hands and was extra careful.

She says parents should pay close attention to anything they think may lead to an infection.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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