A study published yesterday counts the number of health-care-associated MRSA infections down. The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, finds a decline in the rate of infection (per 100,000 people) of about 31 percent. Nationwide in 2011, there were just over 80,000 cases of invasive MRSA, down from 2005 with just over 111,000 cases.
MRSA-associated deaths are also on the decline by 47 percent; from 21,000 US infections at the time of death in 2005 to about 11,000 in 2011.
Dr. Raymund Dantes, currently at Emory University, conducted the study while at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He counsels, “One message that folks can take away: If you’re in a hospital or health care setting, make sure to remind your doctors and nurses to wash their hands if you don’t see them do it.”
For those of you who are too shy to order your doctor or nurse to take the precaution most often prescribed for preventing the spread of any germ, consider a series of previous studies that show that significant numbers of healthcare workers skip this step to save time and their colleagues are loathe to address the discretion. Unfortunately, a study last year out of Switzerland finds that many doctors and nurses—at least in Geneva—dislike the idea of the patient reminding or asking the doctor to wash his or her hands.
MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which is a type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is commonly picked up in hospitals and nursing homes. These invasive MRSA cases often involve pneumonia and infections found in the bloodstream or surgical sites, and regularly result in hospitalization and sometimes death.
The spread of MRSA is not confined to healthcare facilities, in the community, MRSA cases typically result in skin infections that can be spread by skin-to-skin contact. MRSA cases in the community are down about five percent since 2005. Common locations it is found are jails and homeless shelters; places of close-crowding and often less-than-sanitary conditions.
[Image via World Health Organization Facebook.]