MRSA kills an estimated 20,000 people in the United States each year. The superbug, which is resistant to most common antibiotics, can attack wounds and trigger potentially lethal blood stream infections. Community-associated strains, while generally less virulent and susceptible to more antibiotics, can still cause significant morbidity and mortality.
"MRSA has generally been a significant problem only in hospitals," said Eili Klein, the report's lead author and researcher at Resources for the Future. "But the findings from this study suggest that there is a significant reservoir in the community as well." This community reservoir leads to a dangerous spread of community-associated strains from outpatient units into hospitals, according to Klein.
To curtail this spread, hospitals will need to step up infection control procedures, including those practiced in outpatient units. This study and others suggest that the most effective way of containing MRSA and other superbugs is by employing surveillance and infection control on a regional basis.
"The movement of community-associated strains into the hospital also points to the urgent need for rapid tests that can identify the strain of MRSA," Klein said. Some MRSA strains, particularly those coming into the outpatient departments, are vulnerable to a wider range of cheap antibiotics. With a rapid test, a hospital doctor could prescribe a cheaper, but still effective drug to combat an infectiona strategy that might reduce health care costs and help preserve the nation's supply of antibiotics, according to authors.
|Contact: Kay Campbell|