Saturday, December 13, 2008
Doctor warns on rampant strains of MRSA
DR MUIRIS HOUSTON, Medical Correspondent in London
NEW STRAINS of the MRSA superbug now emerging in community settings could make it impossible to control MRSA outbreaks in hospitals, a European infectious disease expert has said.
Dr Robert Skov, of the National Centre for Antimicrobials and Infection Control in Copenhagen, Denmark, told a conference on healthcare associated infection that "today's community associated MRSA will be tomorrow's hospital acquired MRSA".
The clinical microbiologist warned that community associated MRSA will increasingly be introduced into hospitals by patients carrying the bug, where this is not detected on admission.
He told the Lancet infectious diseases conference in London yesterday that the spread of MRSA in the community could impair or render control of MRSA in hospitals impossible.
Dr Skov also pointed to evidence of a large reservoir of MRSA in animals for food production that, following transmission to humans, will represent a serious threat to the control of MRSA.
Studies from the US and Greece have shown a displacement of hospital associated MRSA by community acquired versions of the drug-resistant bacteria. Recent statistics for Greece show community acquired MRSA now accounts for one quarter of all hospital cases of the bug.
"Community acquired MRSA must be taken seriously and suppressed," he said.
Prof Gary French, professor of medical microbiology at Kings College,London, told doctors the prevalence of MRSA in hospital patients' bloodstreams was still increasing worldwide. He described how the introduction of mandatory reporting in the NHS had increased the notification of hospital acquired MRSA by 50 per cent.
The latest figures show there are 70,000 serious MRSA infections in hospitals in England.
"Some 3 - 5 per cent of patients admitted to hospitals here are colonised by MRSA," he said, creating a "revolving door" which made infection control very difficult. Prof French warned that new community acquired MRSA organisms were doubling each year in the UK.
Prof Mark Wilcox, professor of medical microbiology at the Universityof Leeds, an expert in Clostridium difficile (C diff), another problem hospital bug, told the conference that antibiotic use increases the risk of C diff infection, especially the use of the cephalosporin family and the drug clindamycin.