MRSA Prevention and Infection-Control Strategies
Patient screening upon hospital admission, with nasal cultures, prevents the cohabitation of MRSA carriers with non-carriers, and exposure to infected surfaces. In the United States and Canada, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines on 19 October 2006, citing the need for additional research, but declined to recommend such screening.
A report in the journal "Pediatrics" says 2.4% of healthy children may be carrying the staph infection "MRSA" in their nasal passage.
Alcohol has been proven to be an effective surface sanitizer against MRSA. Quaternary ammonium can be used in conjunction with alcohol to extend the longevity of the sanitizing action. The prevention of nosocomial infections involves routine and terminal cleaning. Non-flammable Alcohol Vapor in Carbon Dioxide systems (NAV-CO2) do not corrode metals or plastics used in medical environments and do not contribute to antibacterial resistance.
In healthcare environments, MRSA can survive on surfaces and fabrics, including privacy curtains or garments worn by care providers. Complete surface sanitation is necessary to eliminate MRSA in areas where patients are recovering from invasive procedures. Testing patients for MRSA upon admission, isolating MRSA-positive patients, decolonization of MRSA-positive patients, and terminal cleaning of patients' rooms and all other clinical areas they occupy is the current best practice protocol for nosocomial MRSA.
At the end of August 2004, after a successful pilot scheme to tackle MRSA, the UK National Health Service announced its Clean Your Hands campaign. Wards were required to ensure that alcohol-based hand rubs are placed near all beds so that staff can hand wash more regularly. It is thought that if this cuts infection by just 1%, the plan will pay for itself many times over.
A June 2008 report, centered on a survey by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epimedmiology, concluded that poor hygiene habits remain the principal barrier to significant reductions in the spread of MRSA.
After the drainage of boils or other treatment for MRSA, patients can shower at home using chlorhexidine (Hibiclens) or hexachlorophene (Phisohex) antiseptic soap from head to toe, and apply mupirocin (Bactroban) 2% ointment inside each nostril twice daily for 7 days, using a cotton-tipped swab. Doctors may also prescribe strong antibotics such as Clindamycin, Levofloxacin (Levaquin), and possibly Flagyl for the side effects of the Clindamycin. Household members are recommended to follow the same decolonization protocol.
Mathematical models describe one way in which a loss of infection control can occur after measures for screening and isolation seem to be effective for years, as happened in the UK. In the "search and destroy" strategy that was employed by all UK hospitals until the mid 1990s, all patients with MRSA were immediately isolated, and all staff were screened for MRSA and were prevented from working until they had completed a course of eradication therapy that was proven to work. Loss of control occurs because colonised patients are discharged back into the community and then readmitted: when the number of colonised patients in the community reaches a certain threshold, the "search and destroy" strategy is overwhelmed. One of the few countries not to have been overwhelmed by MRSA is the Netherlands: an important part of the success of the Dutch strategy may have been to attempt eradication of carriage upon discharge from hospital.
Current US guidance does not require workers in general workplaces (not healthcare facilities) with MRSA infections to be routinely excluded from going to work.
Unless directed by a healthcare provider, exclusion from work should be reserved for those with wound drainage that cannot be covered and contained with a clean, dry bandage and for those who cannot maintain good hygiene practices. Workers with active infections should be excluded from activities where skin-to-skin contact is likely to occur until their infections are healed. Healthcare workers should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Guidelines for Infection Control in Health Care Personnel.
To prevent the spread of Staph Infection or MRSA Infection in the workplace, employers should ensure the availability of adequate facilities and supplies that encourage workers to practice good hygiene; that surface sanitizing in the workplace is followed; and that contaminated equipment are sanitized with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants.
Reports reflect a nationwide epidemic of MRSA in the US — one that has significantly increased over the past seven years. A 2007 report in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimated that the number of MRSA infections treated in hospitals doubled nationwide, from approximately 127,000 in 1999 to 278,000 in 2005, while at the same time deaths increased from 11,000 to more than 17,000.
Worldwide, an estimated 2 billion people carry some form of S. aureus; of these, up to 53 million (2.7% of carriers) are thought to carry MRSA. In the United States, 95 million carry S. aureus in their noses; of these, 2.5 million (2.6% of carriers) carry MRSA. A population review conducted in three U.S. communities showed the annual incidence of CA-MRSA during 2001–2002 to be 18–25.7/100,000; most CA-MRSA isolates were associated with clinically relevant infections, and 23% of patients required hospitalization.
Cystic fibrosis patients are often treated with multiple antibiotics, which must be administered in a hospital setting. Frequent hospital visits can increase exposure to MRSA, potentially increasing the rate of life-threatening MRSA pneumonia in this group. The risk of cross-colonization has led to the increased use of isolation protocols among these patients. In a hospital setting, patients who have received fluoroquinolones are more likely to become colonized with MRSA;this is probably because many circulating strains of MRSA are fluoroquinolone resistant, which means that MRSA is able to colonize patients whose normal skin flora have been cleared of non-resistant S. aureus by fluoroquinolones.
In the United States, there have been increasing numbers of reports of outbreaks of MRSA colonization and infection through skin contact in locker rooms and gymnasiums, even among healthy populations. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine linked MRSA to the abrasions caused by artificial turf. Three studies by the Texas State Department of Health found that the infection rate among football players was 16 times the national average. In December of 2007, a high school football player died from MRSA-infected turf burns.MRSA has also been found in the public school systems throughout the country.
MRSA is also becoming a problem in pediatric settings, including hospital nurseries. A 2007 study found that 4.6% of patients in U.S. health care facilities were infected or colonized with MRSA. One 2008 study concluded that men living in predominately gay ZIP codes in San Francisco are 13 times more likely to be infected by one strain of MRSA than their heterosexual neighbors.
MRSA causes as many as 20% of Staphylococcus aureus infections in populations that use intravenous drugs. These out-of-hospital strains, or CA-MRSA, are more easily treated, though more virulent, than HA-MRSA. CA-MRSA apparently did not evolve de novo in the community but represents a hybrid between MRSA that spread from the hospital environment and strains that were once easily treatable in the community. Most of the hybrid strains also acquired a factor that increases their virulence, resulting in the development of deep-tissue infections from minor scrapes and cuts, as well as many cases of fatal pneumonia.
As of early 2005, the number of deaths in the United Kingdom attributed to MRSA has been estimated by various sources to lie in the area of 3,000 per year. Staphylococcus bacteria account for almost half of all UK hospital infections. The issue of MRSA infections in hospitals has recently been a major political issue in the UK, playing a significant role in the debates over health policy in the United Kingdom general election held in 2005.
On January 6, 2008, half of 64 non-Chinese cases of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococus aureus (MRSA) infections in Hong Kong in 2007 were Filipino domestic helpers. Ho Pak-leung, professor of microbiology, University of Hong Kong traced the cause from high use of antibiotics. In 2007, there were 166 community cases in Hong Kong compared with 8,000 hospital-acquired MRSA (155 recorded cases — 91 involved Chinese locals, 33 Filipinos, 5 each for Americans and Indians, and 2 each from Nepal, Australia, Denmark and England).