Although methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus, or MRSA, infections are still mostly seen as a problem that occurs in hospitals, a report in the Oct. 17 Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that invasive MRSA infections are no longer confined to healthcare settings and should be viewed as a major public health problem.
For 2005, there were an estimated 18,650 hospital deaths caused by some 94,360 invasive MRSA infections, according to calculations by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers who examined the records from nine reporting sites from July 2004 through December 2005. Among the most common risk factors were hospitalization, surgery and living at a long-term-care residence.
The authors cite a 2006 study that found MRSA has become the leading cause of skin and soft-tissue infections among U.S. emergency department patients, and noted that about 85% of the cases they studied were healthcare-related.
An accompanying editorial by Elizabeth Bancroft with the Los Angeles Department of Public Health noted that if the researchers estimates are accurate, there were more deaths from MRSA infection in 2005 than from HIV/AIDS. Bancroft warns that rates of invasive MRSA will continue to increase unless effective interventions are implemented. She noted that many simple preventive measures such as hand-washing and judicious antibiotic use are well-known but imperfectly practiced. -- by Andis Robeznieks
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your letter to Modern Healthcare Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.