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MRSA infections fall for fourth consecutive year, says HPA

By Lilian Anekwe

The number of MRSA infections recorded in healthcare-associated settings has fallen for the fourth consecutive year, new figures show.

The latest figures on MRSA infections, published today by the Health Protection Agency, show that there were 966 cases reported in England during January to March 2008. This figure is an 11% decreased on the previous quarter, when 1,088 infections were reported.

Over the financial year of March 2007 to March 2008, there was a 30% reduction in the number of MRSA cases compared to the same period in 2006-7.

This is the fourth and largest-ever annual decrease, and leaves the Government just three infections away from hitting their target of halving the number of MRSA cases by March 2008.

The Government's success in driving down MRSA infections has however not been matched for Clostridium difficile.

The latest figures show C.difficle infections rose by 6% to 140,586 – but this is still a 32% reduction on the same quarter last year, when there were 15,644 cases.

Dr Georgia Duckworth, head of the HPA's healthcare-associated infection and antimicrobial resistance department, said: ‘The substantial drop we have seen in MRSA bloodstream infections over the past year is impressive and a credit to the hard work of our colleagues in the NHS, strengthening good practice in infection control.'

She added: ‘We now have a more robust system that will enable us to measure the levels of this infection better and help Trusts manage and monitor the effectiveness of their interventions to improve infection control.'

Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson said: 'We are tackling infections on every front with a relentless focus on cleanliness, best practice guidance on antibiotic prescribing, isolating patients and more infection control staff with more powers to help drive down infection rates.

'From April 2009 frontline staff, including the 5000 matrons we have now - more than double the number of last year - will also be able to report any concerns they have to the new regulator, the Care Quality Commission.

'Our strategy is clearly having an impact, with our challenging target to reduce MRSA by half now within touching distance, but this is not an issue we can be complacent about and we will continue to focus our efforts on reducing infections further.'

MRSA: rates down for fourth year in a row MRSA: rates down for fourth year in a row

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