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Understanding Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Author(s): by Mary Pat Bolton, MA, RD, LD

Hospital-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (HA–MRSA)

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that hospital-associated strains of S. aureus are still responsible for about 85% of MRSA infections. The CDC study estimated that in 2005, 94,360 people developed serious, invasive MRSA infections, and that approximately 18,650 patients died during a hospital stay related to these infections. In a review of hospital records from 2000 to 2001, researchers found that patients diagnosed with S. aureus infections were five times more likely to die in the hospital than were patients without the infection.

For severe hospital-associated MRSA infections, doctors typically administer vancomycin intravenously. This antibiotic is one of the few remaining treatments for HA–MRSA. In 2002, the first vancomycin-resistant bacteria were identified in the United States, but fortunately, these strains are rare at this time.