Kids Are Catching Staph Infections from Bounce Houses-Mostly Truth!  

Summary of eRumor:

As in past summers, warnings that kids are catching staph infections from bounce houses at the beginning of the summer of 2017.

The Truth:

There have been a handful of media reports about parents claiming that their children contracted staph infections or other skin conditions from bounce houses over the years.

But there’s no indication how widespread the issue is, and there didn’t appear to be an elevated risk for bounce house staph infections when these warnings resurfaced in June 2017.

Warnings that kids are catching staff infections from bounce houses seem to circulate at the beginning of each summer. And, in the spring of 2017, various blog sites began posting warnings about the seemingly growing threat of bacteria in bounce houses causes staph infections. The problem, however, is that these posts cited reports from 2015, creating the false impression that there was an imminent threat, which doesn’t appear to be the case.

Perhaps the most well-known report of a child catching an infection from a bounce house came from a Boston-based Fox affiliate in July 2015. The report details how mother Brenda Sanderson noted sores on her child’s arms shortly after he went into a bounce house at a birthday party:

Brenda put Neosporin on the affected skin and did not think anything of it. The marks did not get better. They were growing and spreading. The ones on his arm grew tremendously bigger and became open sore wounds. Brenda said the wounds were spreading and painful. “It was oozing and when it was oozing it spreads… he said they were hurt to touch.”

She immediately brought her son to the doctor’s office. The doctor asked about her son’s recent activity and the bouncy house party came up.  When the doctor heard her son had been in a bounce house, she knew it was a staph infection, caused by unseen bacteria on the plastic surface. The doctor told her “It is like a wrestling mat. Staph infections come from a gym or something that’s not being washed or cleansed properly will start to create a bacteria.”

 

bounce house staph infection
A widely-circulated photo of a child who contracted a skin condition from a bounce house in 2015.

Seven children contracted a serious Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection from a rental bounce house that was used at a birthday party in Cape Coral, Florida, in 2016, WINK News reports:

CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Seven children are fighting an aggressive skin infection their mothers say was contracted from playing in a rental bounce house at a birthday party.

“Every child that was in the bounce house has it,” Alayna Sanchez said. “It’s very contagious and they are spreading all over their body.”

The birthday party full of fun and games turned into a nightmare for Stephanie Foraker’s kids.

“The blisters were getting bigger,” Foraker said, “oozy…gross.”

Foraker claims the children got the infection Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from a rental bounce house.

Marybeth Saunders, medical director for infection prevention and epidemiology at Lee Memorial Health System, says MRSA is a painful bacterial infection.

“The bacteria gets into that area and can have a chance to multiply and cause an area of infection,” Saunders explained, adding MRSA is usually spread through skin-to-skin contact.

Taken together, these reports indicate that unclean bounce houses can lead to staph infections in children. But again, it’s not clear how common the issue is, and there weren’t any new reports of bounce house staff infections to new base warnings on in June 2017.

Still, it’s probably a good idea to thoroughly disinfect any rented bounce houses before letting children inside. Additionally, not letting children with open or exposed wounds in bounce houses and thoroughly washing skin after leaving a bounce house can help prevent infections.

In the end, we’re calling this one “mostly true” because while there are credible reports of staph infections from bounce houses, it’s not clear how common that is.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 06/09/2017