Hospital MRSA cases drop by 54%

Community MRSA rates decrease by just 5% over the same period

A CDC study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine found that the number of hospital methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) cases decrease by more than half from 2005 to 2011, while the number of community MRSA cases dropped by just 5%.

                >> Also from CDC this week: Superbugs kill 23,000 people per year

Overall, the number of MRSA cases in the United States decreased from 111,261 cases in 2005 to 80,461 in 2011. Specifically, from 2005 to 2011:

  • The number of serious MRSA infections in hospitalized patients decreased by 54%;
  • The number of serious MRSA infections diagnosed in people at home but who recently were in a health care setting dropped by 28%; and
  • The number of serious MRSA infections diagnosed in people at home decrease by 5%.

Researches cite the dramatic increase in MRSA infections from 1995 to 2005 and the development of stricter hygiene protocols in response as the reason for the steep decline.

Raymund Dantes—the study's lead author, former CDC epidemiologist, and current associate professor of hospital medicine at Emory University—said, "Certainly there has been a big focus on trying to reduce health care-associated infections like MRSA in many hospitals and health care settings." He added, "We certainly hope that this dramatic decrease in MRSA infections ... suggests that these efforts are paying off."

  • How one hospital won a Quality Compass award for reducing infections: This 2013 case study explains how Memorial Hospital of South Bend reduced CLABSIs by 77% from 2010 to 2011.

Meanwhile, researchers attributed the small decline in community infections in part to the use of antibiotics in animals, as resistant strains can end up in manure used as fertilizer. In communities where this type of manure was present, the report found that residents were 38% more likely to develop a MRSA infection.

Frank Lowy of Columbia University said, "[T]his investigation provides yet another reason to be concerned regarding the use of antibiotics as growth enhancers in animal feed and argues for legislation that restricts the use of antibiotics in this setting."

Researchers also said that among those who experience community-based infections, "[t]here are higher rates of diabetes, there is a higher rate of HIV and there is a higher rate of intravenous drug use." Dantes said that while "some of them can be explained by these risk factors, ... more research needs to be done to determine the best recommendation for preventing these types of infections" (Seaman, Reuters, 9/16; Walsh, MedPage Today, 9/16; Ross Johnson, Modern Healthcare, 9/16 [subscription required]).


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