The Changing Epidemiology of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the United States: A National Observational Study

 

The American Journal of Epidemiology
February 2013

Research Area: Antibiotic Resistance | Region: North America
Type: Article | Hot Topic(s): MRSA; HAIs
The Question

How has the epidemiology of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) changed in recent years?

What We Found

The growth of MRSA-related hospitalizations was stagnant between 2005 and 2009. Community-associated infections peak in the summer, likely due to seasonal antibiotic overuse. Read more about the findings in our press release.

Why It Matters

Normally found on human skin, Staphylococcus aureus can infect wounds and cause life-threatening conditions such as sepsis and pneumonia. Strains of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) fail to respond to commonly used antibiotics, making infections more expensive and difficult to treat. Prior studies report MRSA kills approximately 20,000 people each year and increases hospital costs by between $3,000 to more than $35,000.

The new study has several implications for public health and future studies. First, we need better surveillance to address emerging threats before they reach the epidemic proportions of MRSA. Secondly, the continued prevalence of CA-MRSA is worrying and suggests a need for more coordinated campaigns for infection control and judicious antibiotic use in communities as well as hospitals. Finally, more research is needed to better understand changing MRSA trends and apply these lessons to other emerging infections, to explore the interaction between community- and hospital-associated strains, and to aid the development of a staph vaccine.