Community-based MRSA poses greater threat to healthcare than previously thought

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There has been a staggering seven-fold increase in the new community-associated strain of methycillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospital outpatient units over the last decade, according to new research. 

Between 1999 and 2006, rates of MRSA among hospital outpatients rose 90%, and now constitute more than half of all Staphylococcus aureus infections, according to the research from the Washington, D.C. think-tank, Resources for the Future. This is a result of a massive seven-fold increase in the prevalence of the community-based strain in hospital outpatient units over that time. In 1999, only 3.6% of all outpatient MRSA cases were associated with the community-based strain. In 2006, it was 28.2%. Doctors who move in and out of outpatient areas of the hospital can easily transfer this strain of MRSA to other settings.

Nursing homes have long been on the offensive against facility-acquired strains of MRSA. While the study focuses primarily on MRSA transference to hospital outpatient areas, nursing homes could still be at risk from a strain that researchers say can be easily picked up in fitness centers, schools and other public places. The study appears in the December issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.