MRSA-A Deadly Threat on the Rise
The incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
) is increasing at an alarming rate. In fact, MRSA is now the No. 1 diagnosis in people presenting to U.S. emergency departments with skin and soft tissue infections. The infection is not entirely benign either; MRSA infections result in approximately 19,000 deaths annually. With over 94,000 people being infected with MRSA each year, there exists a real need for surveillance programs including prompt diagnosis and treatment.
As a relatively healthy person, not hospitalized, living in a typical community, I had my own sudden frightening brush with community acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) just over a year ago.
Another consideration: With Medicare's decision not to reimburse hospitals for treating otherwise-preventable episodes such as nosocomial infections and states beginning to mandate MRSA surveillance programs now is the time for your lab to evaluate its protocols.
As I indicated in that ADVANCE article: Many European countries use an aggressive "search-and-destroy" tactic whereby patients are screened on admission and immediately decolonized and placed on contact isolation if MRSA is present. Many U.S. hospitals regard this as overkill, but the incidence of MRSA (including CA-MRSA) in Europe is much less than in the U.S., largely due to this aggressive procedure. For example, in France it is less than 1 percent, according to sources at the American Hospital of Paris (personal communication, January 2007).
The CDC is pretty equivocal and still trying to find its footing on coming up with consistent recommendations. How big a problem do you consider MRSA infections (nosocomial and community acquired)? What is your laboratory's strategy to fight this new villain? Any experience with rapid kits?