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Where things stand with MRSA

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According to the CDC, “significant progress was made to reduce MRSA bloodstream infections in healthcare from 2005 – 2012, when the rates of MRSA bloodstream infections decreased by 17.1% each year.” Progress slowed from 2013 – 2016, when “no significant change was detected” in the number of MRSA bloodstream infections. The most recent antibiotic resistance report from the CDC indicates that MRSA caused an estimated 10,600 deaths in 2017, adding up to an estimated $1.7 billion in associated healthcare costs.

In 2021, midway through the second year of the ongoing pandemic, data indicates that we’ve “lost nearly a decade of progress against HAIs” including MRSA, says APIC President Ann Marie Pettis.

In an analysis of MRSA lab-identified events reported by acute-care hospitals to the National Healthcare Safety Network in 2019 and 2020, preliminary data for the last quarter of 2020 showed an increase of 34% in MRSA compared to the same quarter in 2019. Particular states saw even more alarming increases, including Arizona, where rates climbed 80%, and New Jersey, which saw a 99% increase.

The CDC and Biden-Harris administration characterized the data as indicating “an urgent need,” earmarking $2.1 billion to improve infection prevention and control.

Additional emerging research underscores the gravity of the situation. Data indicates that in 2017, MRSA infections resulted in nearly 5,000 deaths – almost half of the total deaths – and nearly $717 million in healthcare costs specifically for American adults 65 and older. Researchers note that this more vulnerable population is only growing in size: “Americans 65 and older have been the fastest-growing age group in the past decade.” MRSA also had the highest per-infection cost among six common antibiotic-resistant pathogens studied among community-onset invasive infections.

At a time when it feels that the focus on hand hygiene, patient isolation, PPE and environmental cleaning has never been higher, what can be done to reverse these trends? “At this point there’s a lot of evidence on how pathogens are being shed,” says Curtis Donskey, MD, director of infection control at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center and chair of the Infection Control Committee at the Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs. “The next step is to see if there are some practical interventions we can implement to reduce shedding.”

With an abundance of literature pointing to fabrics’ role in MRSA transmission and the recognition that patients are in nearly-perpetual contact with soft surfaces, fortifying the soft surface barrier is a promising starting place for risk reduction. SilvaClean has been shown to significantly reduce the presence of MRSA on everything from gowns in community hospitals to athletic gear in professional football locker rooms, and stands as a practical intervention for curbing these troubling MRSA trends.