Efforts to stop aggressive, drug-resistant staph infections from spreading through hospitals and outpatient care settings such as dialysis centers seem to be working, according to surveillance of nine communities including Monroe County.
The new federal study of methicillin-resistant staph, or MRSA, focused on invasive cases that can become deadly.
MRSA cases contracted in hospitals fell by 28 percent from 2005 to 2008. Cases contracted in the community within a year after being cared for in a hospital, nursing home or outpatient setting such as a dialysis center dropped by 17 percent in that time period. The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Most of the infections occur after a patient has surgery, receives a catheter or otherwise undergoes medical care that allows bacteria an opportunity to get past the skin. The bacteria can cause life-threatening damage to the bones, joints, bloodstream, surgical site, heart valves and lungs. The bacteria got its name because it developed resistance to the antibiotics used to kill it.
Preventing these infections is a national priority, Dr. Ghinwa Dumyati, Monroe County Department of Public Health epidemiologist and a University of Rochester infectious disease physician, said in a written statement. She led Centers for Disease Control and Prevention efforts to track infections in Monroe County.
A 2006 CDC report found that MRSA infections had more than doubled from 1999 to 2005. These newest numbers are certainly trending in the right direction, said Dumyati.
Better hand-washing by health care providers, testing for MRSA when patients are admitted to the hospital and reducing infections in central lines (tubes that carry hydration, medicine and food to major veins) are among the ongoing efforts to reduce staph infection cases.