Hospital Acquired-Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (HA-MRSA) infections, resistant to all penicillin-type antibiotics, are a major problem in today’s hospitals. Researchers are working to resolve this life-threatening issue by studying effective hygiene methods in an effort to combat these infections. Interestingly, a recent study on this topic found instead that HA-MRSA infections decreased when antibiotic usage in the hospital was reduced.
MRSA and Antimicrobial Resistance
MRSA infections in hospitals may prove lethal to patients recovering from life-saving operations; those on immunosuppressive medication, and even in maternity wards. HA-MRSA infections do not respond to the normal range of antibiotics, and patients often succumb to simple cutaneous abscesses such as the one pictured, which may develop into severe systemic infections. Resistant micro-organisms persist in hospital settings.
The Ten Year, MRSA Study at St. George’s Hospital, London, U.K.
Medical researchers at St. George’s Hospital, University of London, U.K., monitored MRSA infection over 10 years for a study published in late September, 2012. The study found a reduction in MRSA rates – but it wasn’t the result of improved hygiene; the reduction coincided with a drop in hospital prescriptions of ciprofloxacin, a member of the fluoroquinolone family of antibiotics. Main points from the study are as follows:
- Successful HA-MRSA clones such as CC22 SCCmecIV are resistant to both fluoroquinolones and many additional antibiotics.
- The prescribing of antibiotics in hospitals clearly contributes to the spread of HA-MRSA infections.
- Improved hygiene and hand washing had little effect on reducing MRSA infection rates during the study period.
- Significantly, when ciprofloxacin prescriptions were reduced by 70% during the same study period, the incidence of MRSA fell by 50%, and remained at this level.
How were MRSA Infections Reduced?
According to author Dr. Jodi Lindsay, at St George’s, University of London, “the study results suggest HA-MRSA infections rely on ciprofloxacin, and fluoroquinolones in general, to thrive in hospitals.” Dr. Lindsay’s interpretation of the findings is that controlling MRSA superbugs requires finding alternative ways to use antibiotics, rather than simply focusing on infection control techniques.
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