NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. — Ryan Robinson went from a healthy, 17-year-old soccer player at the peak of his form to another victim of a deadly drug-resistant strain of bacteria — all within the span of five days.
It's something his stepfather still cannot fathom.
"It's a surreal experience," said Michael Brown. "It's not something you can plan for." Ryan Robinson Sam Pile
Ryan died Tuesday. His rapid deterioration in health stemmed from MRSA, a strain of staph that is aggressive and typically harder to treat because it is resistant to commonly used antibiotics. He was buried Saturday.
Until the beginning of this decade, MRSA, short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, was largely confined to hospitals. But in the last few years, there has been an increase in cases of drug-resistant staph among the general public, including jails, the military and athletic teams.
Athletes are at risk because they "are more likely to be in a crowded condition," said Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, an epidemiologist with the state Department for Public Health.
Athletes are also more likely to have abrasions, cuts and scrapes — the skin breaks that bacteria can enter — and they are more likely to come into contact with shared items such as towels, razors or practice jerseys, Humbaugh said.
Contrary to initial reports, Brown said Ryan did have some injuries.
"He had different scrapes and scratches on his legs, and he also had a large cut on his hand where he had been cleated in a game," he said. "I'm not suggesting that that is the point of entry because we don't know, obviously."
The speed of Ryan's deterioration is something that stunned the community and his classmates at West Jessamine High School, where he was a junior.
Brown said Ryan played soccer on March 5 and, other than a dry cough, there was no indication that the teen had any problem.
The next morning, Ryan awoke "throwing-up sick." So Brown said Ryan's mother, Patti Brown, took him to Lexington Clinic's Jessamine Medical Center near Wal-Mart in Nicholasville.
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