Staph infection kills high school wrestler

DOWNEY Family members of 17-year-old Noah Armendariz say he was becoming a star wrestler for the Downey High School wrestling team just like his older brother Ishmael.

Click in the Eyewitness News Story Window above to watch Leo Stallworth's report, including an interview with the family.

At 5' 11" and a 190 lbs., teammates say that Noah was destined for greatness in the heavy weight division this season. That is until tragedy struck.

"I want to make people aware of what my son went through," said Noah's mom, Cynthia Magana.

Cynthia Magana says that shortly after her son returned home from a wrestling camp in Lake Arrowhead in June, he developed a strange rash and flu-like symptoms.

"His body ached and then he could not walk anymore. He had a fever and then four days later he broke out with a rash, more like sores," said Magana.

She says that after repeated trips to the hospital doctors finally diagnosed her son with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. It is a staph infection that is resistant to some antibiotics and is spread from skin-to-skin contact.

Magana says that the infection was so aggressive doctors were powerless to fight it before it killed her son.

"I want to make people aware that staph is really serious," said Magana.

"I wrestled for 10 years and I never got sick. I showered after practice. I am very proud of him -- he was trying," said Noah's brother, Ishmael Armendariz.

L.A. County health officials say that a staph infection is a type of bacteria found on the skin or in the nose. It is the number one cause of skin infections, but fatal cases in children are rare.

However, lately they say it has become more deadly -- moving from an infection common in hospitals to outbreaks being reported everywhere including sports teams like: football, basketball and wrestling.

Noah's teammates say that they are grief stricken and concerned.

"It hit us all real hard because it came out of nowhere. First he had a fever at home and I had seen him a week before and he was fine. A week later he was coming out of a coma in the hospital. To me it all came too quick," said teammate, David Lemus.

The CDC says that MRSA is extremely infections and symptoms include:

  • Skin becoming red with warmth
  • Skin swelling, with boils or blisters
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Health officials say that the best way to prevent a staph infection, especially for athletes, is to shower with an anit-bacterial soap after a sporting event.

Health officials add that towels and uniforms should be washed in hot water for at least 25 minutes.


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