Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is usually spread by direct contact with an infected wound or from contaminated hands, usually those of healthcare providers. Also, people who carry MRSA but do not have signs of infection can spread the bacteria to others and potentially cause an infection.
The only way to know if MRSA is the cause of an infection is to perform a laboratory culture of the bacteria. Obtaining bacteria to culture is a procedure done by a doctor.
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is engaged in several short- and long-term surveillance (infection tracking) projects that involve collaboration with health departments, individual hospital, and academic medical centers, among others. Understanding the burden of MRSA – how much is occurring, where it is happening, and how it is being spread – is essential for developing effective prevention programs and measuring their impact.
Studies show that about one in three (33%) people carry staph in their nose, usually without any illness. Two in 100 people carry MRSA. There are no data showing the total number of people who get MRSA skin infections in the community.
Although MRSA is still a major patient threat, a CDC studyExternal Web Site Icon published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine showed that invasive (life-threatening) MRSA infections in healthcare settings are declining. Invasive MRSA infections that began in hospitals declined 54% between 2005 and 2011, with 30,800 fewer severe MRSA infections. In addition, the study showed 9,000 fewer deaths in hospital patients in 2011 versus 2005.
This study (or report) complements data from the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) that found rates of MRSA bloodstream infections occurring in hospitalized patients fell nearly 50% from 1997 to 2007.