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MRSA Infections Decline In Hospital ICUs

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Wednesday, February 18, 2009 12:48 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: MRSA, Staph Infection, Public Health, Antibiotic Resistance, FDA and Prescription Drugs. Infectious Disease


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons / Magnified MRSA infection / author: Patho

The rate of drug-resistant staph infections may be on the rise in general, but hospitals are making headway in curbing at least one source of infection, according to a study by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is an antibiotic-resistant form of the common staph germ. It has evolved over time to gain an increasing resistance to antibiotics and developed strains tougher to treat.

It can be transmitted by surfaces or by touch. The pathogen enters the body through breaks in the skin and can be fatal if it enters the blood stream.

For the study, Dr. Deron Burton of the CDC and colleagues analyzed hospital data on blood infections in adults and children caused by central line catheters over a ten year period from 1997 to 2007.

Specifically, they looked at ICU-based MRSA infections associated with central line catheters, lines used for delivering fluids to patients in intensive care, during that period.

They found 1,684 ICUs reported a total of 33,587 tough-to-treat blood infections during the study period. Of those, just fewer than 2,500 were drug-resistant strains of MRSA, and 1,590 were staph infections susceptible to antibiotics.

The study is published online in the Feb. 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

"The risk of MRSA blood infections, associated with the use of central line catheters has declined dramatically by 50 to 70 percent since 2001, in all types of adult ICUs," said Dr. Burton.

Hospitals are likely following CDC-recommended prevention guidelines, which have contributed to the improvements, suspects Burton and colleagues.

“Although hospitals are making strides, most ICUs still remain far from entirely eliminating MRSA infections and many are yet to implement suggested prevention strategies,” wrote Dr. Michael Climo, in a commentary of the report.

An estimated 94,000 Americans get serious, invasive MRSA infections yearly. And 19,000 die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A recent study revealed super bacteria, known as MRSA is spreading among children, causing a surge in head and neck infections.

Also, the number of infections from the superbug, MRSA, in English hospitals has fallen by more than a third over the past year, according to health officials. #

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