New Jersey boy recovering in hospital from battle with rare strain of MRSA

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (WABC) -- A young New Jersey boy came close to death from a rare strain of the infection known as MRSA, but now is trying to recover.

Zachary Doubek is a natural athlete, playing baseball, football, basketball and surfing, but back in June he felt achy after a long day of baseball.

"My knee was really bothering me, I could barely walk on it, and my head really hurt," Zach said.

"Honestly, my first thought was he's tired, he's hungry, he slid into a few bases. I thought it was regular complaints after a double-header," said his mother, Dr. Marnie Doubek.

Doctors visits found nothing. His parents rushed him to the ER after it got to the point he couldn't walk. His body was shutting down.

Tests revealed the deadly strain of MRSA in his body.

"In a perfectly healthy child, this is pretty rare," said Dr. Patricia Whitley-Williams.

She is not treating Zach, but the infectious disease specialist says this strain is on the rise.

"And it's spread by direct or indirect contact with surfaces. It usually causes skin problems, a pimple or boil," said Dr. Whitley-Williams.

Zachary is a one in a million case because it was so aggressive. It invaded his right knee, and after two weeks in a medically induced coma as the bacteria was treated, his left leg was left with nerve damage from being still for so long.

And that's what Nicole, his therapist, is working to correct. It is very painful.

"She's awesome. She likes to push me, but that's because she knows I can do the work. She's awesome," said Zachary.

He is an in-patient at Children's Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick. He's been there for two months. His two brothers come to visit. Mom is almost always there.

"It's hard. I miss the Zach I had before this," she said.

"Marnie has not left his side. It's great for him, great for our family," said Zachary's father Joe.

Dr. Whitley-Williams says making sure your child's hands are clean after outdoor activity can prevent the spread of MRSA.

"15 seconds of washing the hands before they touch anything in the house and certainly before eating," she said.

And she says if your normally healthy child complains of headache, fever, lethargy, get him to the doctor. Zach has family, friends, school and sports as his motivations to get strong again.

"Hopefully I can get back to it and play again," he says.
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