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Community MRSA cases double in just 6 years

Rates of community-acquired MRSA have doubled in just a few years and now represent more than 10% of total cases, an analysis concludes.

The research adds to evidence of surging rates of resistant infections in primary care, with a Health Protection Agency study warning in May of a ‘a major and previously undocumented increase in community-onset staphylococcal diseases'.

Using ciprofloxacin resistance as a marker, a team at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital identified a total of 458 cases of community-acquired-MRSA in just six years, in outpatients, inpatients and at GP clinics.

The number of isolates increased year on year from 49 in 2000 to 102 in 2006.

And while the overall number of MRSA cases dropped over the study period, the proportion that were community-acquired rose from 3.7% to 13.2%.

Researchers found that community-acquired isolates were more likely to be isolated from younger patients than healthcare-associated infections, and were often found in skin and soft tissue infections, especially abcesses.

Study leader Professor Gary French, professor of microbiology at King's College London, said the ‘marked' increases in community-acquired MRSA were consistent with those in other parts of the UK.

‘Community-acquired MRSA strains in London are more frequent than previously thought and their incidence is increasing,' he warned.

RCGP chair Professor Steve Field said the findings reiterated the need for vigilance in prescribing. ‘It shows that despite GPs prescribing fewer antibiotics for shorter courses, the incidence of community-acquired MRSA is increasing, so we shouldn't become complacent. The rate of antibiotic prescribing is good in this country compared to some others but it reinforces the message.'


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