Seasonal MRSA spikes hit children, spare adults in healthcare settings

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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection rates tend to increase during the summer and autumn months, but adults in healthcare settings may be safe from the spike, new research suggests.

The heat and humidity of the summer and autumn contribute to increased skin moisture, which is important for growing microbes, according to researchers at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, who analyzed MRSA cases at their hospital over a 10-year period. The seasonal increase in MRSA infection is most prevalent among children, who see an 85% jump in community-acquired infections, and a 194% increase in hospital-acquired infections during the later months of each year. But while adults in the community saw a slight increase in infections of roughly 14%, those in healthcare settings were unaffected by the seasonal fluctuation, according to the study, which was published online March 23 in PLoS One.

Meanwhile, a separate study finds that enhanced cleaning methods have been able to reduce the risk of MRSA infection among intensive care patients in rooms previously occupied by a patient with MRSA. The enhanced cleaning methods included repeatedly and fully immersing cloths in disinfectant, rather than pouring from a bottle onto the cloth, and inspecting cleaning efforts and providing feedback to staff, according to researchers at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine. These methods were effective at cutting the infection rate in half, from 305 patients out of 10,151 (3%) before the cleaning initiative, to 182 patients out of 11,849 (1.5%) afterward. That study appears in the March 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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