Education And Debate

Controversies: Is it time to stop searching for MRSA?

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7081.664 (Published 01 March 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:664

Screening is still important

  1. Barry Cookson, director, Laboratory of Hospital Infectiona
  1. a Central Public Health Laboratory, Public Health Laboratory Service, Colindale, London NW9 5HT

    The number of patients acquiring methicillin and multiple antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections while in hospital is increasing worldwide. This pattern varies between countries, within the same city, or even in different wards in the same hospital.1 2 3

    ERIC FOWLER/SIS

    The revised British guidelines for MRSA control will shortly be circulated for comment.4 They will suggest different types of response and even screening strategies depending, for example, on local healthcare referral patterns, the type of MRSA, and the different categories of patients at risk.5 6

    In the United Kingdom, unlike in many other countries, when MRSA re-emerged in the early 1980s, epidemic strains (EMRSA–defined as MRSA isolated from two or more patients in at least two hospitals) were characterised and numbered at the Laboratory of Hospital Infection in Colindale.7 Initially they seemed to be confined to outbreaks in one region, but the isolates that have emerged in the 1990s (EMRSA-15 and EMRSA-16) are causing outbreaks of infection and colonisation in hospitals in more than one region,9 resulting in a fourfold increase in submissions of …

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