Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) should be considered a national priority for disease control, according to researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitalizations from S. aureus and MRSA have increased dramatically between 1999 and 2005, according to their estimates.
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Researchers estimated hospitalizations and deaths related to S. aureus using discharge diagnoses from the National Hospital Discharge Survey, which covers about 270,000 patients. During the study period, estimated hospitalizations related to S. aureus increased 62%, from 294,570 to 477,927, and those related to MRSA more than doubled, from 127,036 to 278,203. Overall, rates of S. aureus-related infections increased 5% per year in the Northeast, 7% in the Midwest and South, and 8% in the West.
Researchers observed steady growth in the incidence of S. aureus- and MRSA-related septicemia, pneumonia, and device-associated infections and dramatic increases in skin and soft tissue infections. Findings also indicate that community-associated MRSA is spreading rapidly into hospitals.
Deaths related to S. aureus averaged about 10,800 per year and those related to MRSA averaged about 5,500 per year, but researchers didn't find any changing trend in the number of deaths caused by S. aureus or MRSA during the study period.
Some of the measures researchers recommend to combat the spread of infection include improving hand hygiene practices to meet recommended guidelines, following standard precautions (including glove use) when dealing with all skin and soft tissue infections, and following contact precautions for all wound care in acute care facilities.