The state health department is looking into the possibility that a type of staph bacteria resistant to many antibiotics is responsible for the death of a St. Peters mother and her son.
Rhonda Smith, 48, and Zachery Smith, 19, died four days apart in February. The Missouri Health Department told News 4 that it is investigating MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus) as the cause.
MRSA infects around 80,000 people each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The family told News 4 that Zachery Smith was admitted to Saint Joseph Health Center with flu-like symptoms. "I've never seen anybody decline, as healthy as that, as quickly as that...and then it turns right around and affects his mother and then three days after that, then she's gone," said Scott Dyer, a relative.
Zachery Smith's organs shut down and he had cardiac arrest. Four days later, Rhonda Smith died at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Peters.
Hope Woodson of the St. Charles County Health Department says there is no concern.
"This is an unfortunate situation, but it is not a public health threat in any way that we know of," Woodson said.
Health department officials say the two deaths appear to be isolated and there is no public health risk, but because of privacy laws, they cannot go into any great detail.
The CDC says MRSA is usually spread by direct contact with an infected open wound. Those who carry MRSA, but do not have signs of infection can spread the bacteria to others, potentially causing an infection.
An autopsy was scheduled for Rhonda Smith, but the results have not been made available yet.