A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the rate of health care associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA declined in the nine metropolitan areas that were examined. Every year around 1.7 million MRSA infections lead to 99,000 deaths in U.S. hospitals. Researchers looked at communities around the country from 2005 through 2008 and found a decline in hospital onset MRSA infections of 9.4% per year. That equated to a 28% decrease in MRSA infections and they found about a 17% decrease in MRSA infections that start in the community, usually from people who have contact with the health care system, like previous admissions to hospitals or those on dialysis. And lead author, Dr. Alex Kallen of the Center for Disease Control says there was an even larger decrease in the subset of blood-stream infections – about 34%. Kallen says they didn't look specifically at the reasons behind the drop in infections, but says "there's been lots of efforts in hospitals as far as infection control...like hand hygiene, but also MRSA specific prevention practices...there's been a huge push to prevent health care associated infections, device and procedure associated infections, catheter associated blood stream infections. And I think we're hopeful that this new attention and level of work contributed to these decreases."
He says initiatives like the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, which targeted blood stream infections and Michigan's Keystone Project could be factors in bringing down MRSA rates and demonstrate that these infections are preventable. Kallen says that while they're encouraged by these results "it's important to stress that the job is not over and there is still a lot of work to be done to make sure that these trends continue."