Teen idol fights MRSA in San Jose

January 26, 2009 5:38:55 PM PST
Organizers in San Jose tapped into some preteen star power Monday to help fight a growing health threat to kids. By the look and sound of things, the message really got through.

You know you are a teen idol when you can light up the house for a hygiene lecture.

Actor Mitchell Musso's visit to Valley Christian Elementary School in San Jose is part of a cross-country push to educate young people.

The co-star of the popular teen show Hannah Montana is heading up a national campaign on the importance of washing hands to protect against drug resistant germs like MRSA.

"I'm not expecting them to go home and say MRSA has this or these kind of germs are in MRSA. These kinds of germs are on my hands and these are on here, and this kills this and so and so. I just want them to go home and wash their hands," says Musso.

MRSA is a form of staphylococcus that is resistant to antibiotics and showing up increasingly among children.

A new study at Emory University looked at more than 21,000 cases of staph infection. In 2001 roughly 12 percent were MRSA. Four years later the percentage had more than doubled to 28 percent.

"I think what that's showing is that we have to be more aware that the organism is out there. It's becoming more resistant to antibiotics," says Paul Beaupre with Good Samaritan Hospital.

Musso is starring in a public service announcement which will be released nationwide.

Back in the classroom, his message seemed to sink in.

"I think he gave us a great less about washing our hands and staying clean so we don't get sick," said one student.

"If you didn't do it before then you can do it now, because you can remember that Mitchell Musso came to your school," said another.

The event was sponsored in part by Good Samaritan Hospital and Valley Medical Hospital in San Jose.

Click here to see Mitchel Musso's video along with tips for parents, teachers and kids.

Click here for more information from the Regional Medical Center of San Jose.

Hannah Montana is produced by Disney which is the parent company of ABC7 News.