The antibiotic resistant bacteria, MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphlococcus aureus) which first appeared more than 50 years ago, is now being increasingly used as an indicator for the quality of hygiene in hospitals.
The MRSA stain first became prevalent around the time antibiotics were first introduced. The bacteria since has become increasingly resistant and is now recognized as an epidemic pathogen.
A study done by the University of Edinburgh examined 80 MRSA clone variants collected from hospital patients over 53 years. The MRSA clone named ERMSA-16 occurs solely in hospitals environments as and was estimated to have been active in UK wards for around 35 years.
In the mid 1990’s a “Search and destroy” tactic was used by all UK hospitals, where all MRSP patients were immediately isolated and all staff were screened and prevented from going back to work until they had completed a course of eradication therapy that was proven to work. The strategy, however, became ineffective when the count of isolated MRSA patients became too great.
Large patient population and sub-par hospital hygiene are conditions that encourage the potentially deadly bacteria to spread quickly. Although there have been attempts to determine the transmission process, it is still unclear as to exactly how the bacteria spreads from patient to patient.
One explanation of the spread of MRSA, based on the research of Paul McAdam, of the Rosalin institute at the University of Edinburgh, says “Our findings suggest that the referral of patients to different hospitals is a major cause of MRSA transmission around the country. This knowledge could help in finding ways to prevent the spread of infections.”
Although MRSA rates have declined in more recent years, due to increased awareness of both citizens and healthcare professionals, there are still concerns about keeping this dangerous bug from spreading.
Most commonly MRSA is spread by skin to skin contact although it can just as easily be spread through contaminated objects.
Government Strategy to battle MRSA is to screen all patients with planned hospital visits and all patients being transferred from one hospital to another. Experts agree, the first step in preventing the spread of MRSA is identifying the transmission routes.
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