MRSA Rates Decline in Hospitals; Rise in Children

World MRSA Day (October 2) is focused on public education about prevention of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in healthcare settings as well as in the community. It is well timed, as a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) called National Burden of Invasive Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infections, United States, 2011 cites declines of 27-54 percent in healthcare-associated MRSA infections, but a relatively flat rate of change in the incidence of community-associated infections.

The authors report a 31 percent drop from 2005 estimates of overall incidents of MRSA infections to approximately 80,000 in 2011. Thanks most likely to infection control efforts and hand hygiene, healthcare-associated MRSA infections are responsible for the majority of the decline. That’s the good news. The decline during that same period in community-associated infections was only about 5 percent. That’s part of the bad news.

The worse news is that according to Trends in Invasive Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infections a study published in Pediatrics, the incidence of community-associated MRSA is rising. Between 2005 and 2010 the incidence rose from 1.1 to 1.7 cases per 100,000 children, a modeled annual increase of around 10 percent. Infants aged 3 to 90 days are especially susceptible, with and incidence of 43.9 cases per 100,000 children. African-American children also had a higher incidence of MRSA at 6.7 per 100,000 than children of other races who averaged 1.6 per 100,000.

The decline in healthcare-associated MRSA is heartening and indicates the success of MRSA prevention efforts in hospitals. However, the problem seems to be moving to the community, and especially the most vulnerable among us, the children. While healthcare facilities can’t let up on their infection control efforts, community-based infection prevention methods beyond the CDC’s common sense recommendations have taken on even more urgency. The authors of the Pediatrics study call for a targeted program to help people in households reduce the spread of MRSA.