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Staphylococcus aureus in intensive care units: every fourth isolate is an MRSA

01.08.2006 In the intensive care units of German hospitals, every fourth Staphylococcus aureus isolate, on average, belongs to the MRSA category.

However, the situation varies considerably. While no MRSA was found in some intensive care units, the percentage was over 64% in others. This is the finding of a study that analyzed the MRSA rate in 38 German intensive care units (Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2006; 27: 146-154). The growing number of nosocomial infections caused by MRSA increasingly poses a clinical and economic challenge to hospitals in Germany. As mainly severely ill patients are affected, colonization and infection with MRSA occur more frequently in intensive care units than in other wards of a hospital. Dr. Elisabeth Meyer from the Institute of Environmental Medicine and Hospital Hygiene at the University of Freiburg and her colleagues investigated the percentage of staphylococcus aureus isolates in intensive care units in Germany.


Large variations in MRSA rate between intensive care units

Altogether 9552 S. aureus isolates were identified between 2001 and 2003. 2249 of them were MRSA. This corresponds to an average rate of 23.6%. However, the percentage of MRSA in S. aureus isolates ranged between 0 und 64.4% depending on the intensive care unit.
The study also investigated whether the use of specific antibiotics affected the MRSA rate. A very high rate of MRSA was found on wards where the antibiotics imipenem and ciprofloxacin were used. No significant changes in the MRSA rate were measured during the three-year period of investigation. While the MRSA percentage decreased in 14 intensive care units, it increased in 18 others. High use of antibiotics of the third generation correlated with the increase of MRSA in the individual intensive care units.

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