MRSA-related Sepsis not declining, despite overall MRSA decline

July 27, 2017

CDDEP study shows hospitalizations due to severe MRSA-related infections hospitalizations have not decreased, despite overall falling rate of MRSA-related infections

Washington, DC - A study from researchers at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy finds evidence that rates of severe methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus blood infections are not declining, despite an overall decline in MRSA-related infections. These findings contradict reported significant reductions in the incidence of invasive MRSA and hospital-onset MRSA bacteremia since 2005 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Active Bacterial Core Surveillance (ABCs) system.

Researchers calculated rates of S. aureus and MRSA-related hospitalizations from 2010 to 2014, for septicemias, pneumonias, and unspecified S. aureus infections, using inpatient records from the National Inpatient Survey (NIS) from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project of the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ). The researchers found that hospitalization rates for MRSA-related skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTIs) decreased between 2010 and 2014, while rates for more invasive MRSA-related infections, sepsis, remained constant. The study found:

  • The rate of S. aureus septicemias increased nearly 20 percent, from 2.66 to 3.15 per 1,000 hospitalizations. The rate of Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) septicemias increased from 1.45 to 1.53 per 1,000 hospitalizations and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) septicemia increased from 1.21 to 1.61 per 1,000 hospitalizations.
  • MRSA-related skin and soft-tissue infections decreased 29 percent (from 3.8 to 3.0 per 1,000 hospitalizations). The rate of other common primary diagnoses with unspecified MRSA-related infections did not significantly change.

MRSA is the leading cause of mortality due to antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. Rates of MRSA remain higher in the U.S. than most other developed countries, particularly for invasive sepsis and pneumonia infections, which are often healthcare-associated.

According to study author and CDDEP Fellow Eili Klein, “It’s important to have an accurate picture of trends in the rates of MRSA infections. That mortality due to sepsis due to sepsis hasn’t declined, despite an overall decline in MRSA infections, underscores the continued need to consider MRSA as a priority in infection control measures. The overall decrease in S. aureus is largely confined to community-associated infections, and may reflect natural waning of the epidemic.”

The study is available online from Clinical Infectious Diseases:


About the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy 
The Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) produces independent, multidisciplinary research to advance the health and wellbeing of human populations around the world.  CDDEP projects are global in scope, spanning Africa, Asia, and North America and include scientific studies and policy engagement.  The CDDEP team is experienced in addressing country-specific and regional issues, as well as the local and global aspects of global challenges, such as antibiotic resistance and pandemic influenza. CDDEP research is notable for innovative approaches to design and analysis, which are shared widely through publications, presentations and web-based programs.  CDDEP has offices in Washington, D.C. and New Delhi and relies on a distinguished team of scientists, public health experts and economists.


31 Jul 2017