Community-acquired MRSA infection often fatal
By David Douglas
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Among people with a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection caught in the general community (rather than in hospital), more than 20 percent were dead within a year, according to new research findings.
Dr. Samy Suissa told Reuters Health that doctors have to be on the lookout "for increasingly frequent community-acquired MRSA infections that too often turn out to be fatal."
MRSA infections used to be seen only in hospitalized patients, but nowadays they are occurring more frequently in the general population.
Suissa, at McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Canada, and colleagues used a UK general practice database to identify 1439 MRSA patients diagnosed in the community from 2001 to 2004. Each patient was compared with up to 10 matched patients without a MRSA diagnosis.
All of the subjects were older than 18 years of age, the average age was 70 years, and none had been hospitalized within the previous 2 years. The patients with MRSA were more likely to have other medical conditions, the researchers report in the online medical journal BMC Medicine.
After 1 year of follow-up, 21.8 percent of MRSA patients had died compared to only 5.0 percent of those in the non-MRSA group.
"Our study suggests that MRSA can be a potentially serious infection in the community leading to increased mortality," the investigators conclude.
They add that the "judicious use of antibiotics is essential to prevent these quite deadly community-acquired MRSA infections," given the emergence of antibiotic resistance when antibiotics are used indiscriminately.
SOURCE: BMC Medicine, January 31, 2008.