Figures Show Decline In MRSA Infections

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Meticillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

HPA has published its latest quarterly report on MRSA (meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) blood poisoning and C. difficile (Clostridium difficile) infection figures.

The latest figures on MRSA bloodstream infections show that there were 1,072 cases reported in England during the July to September quarter of 2007. This represents an 18% decrease on the previous quarter (April to June) when 1,304 reports were received.

The six monthly rate of MRSA bloodstream infection (between April 2007 and September 2007) was 1.24 cases per 10,000 bed days. This represents a 21% decrease on the previous six months (between October 2006 and March 2007) when the rate was 1.57 cases per 10,000 bed days. The rate also represents a 30% decrease compared to the same six months of the previous year (between April 2006 and September 2006), when the rate was 1.77 cases per 10,000 bed days.

Dr Georgia Duckworth , Head of the Agency's Healthcare-Associated Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance Department, said: "This continued decrease in MRSA bloodstream infections is a major achievement against the seemingly unstoppable rise that we saw throughout the 1990s. Latest figures show a continuing downward trend, despite a backdrop of increasing workloads and complex patient needs."

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The latest C. difficile figures, also published today, show that there were 10,734 cases in patients aged 65 years and over in England, reported in the third quarter of 2007 (July - September). This is a 21% decrease on the previous quarter (April - June) when 13,669 reports were received and a reduction of 2,087 cases (16%) on the same period last year.

In patients between 2 and 64 years of age, 2,496 cases were reported in the third quarter of 2007 (July - September). This is a 14% decrease on the previous quarter (April - June) when 2,887 reports were received.

However, these figures should be interpreted with care as the surveillance system is undergoing significant changes, described in the recent letter from the Chief Medical and Nursing Officers.

Dr Duckworth said: "We welcome the changes to the way Trusts collect their C. difficile figures as communicated recently by the Department of Health, as this should make the information in future reports more robust. However, these changes are not yet reflected in the report published today, as Trusts have been given time to review and update their figures in the light of the new criteria."

Further changes by the Department of Health to the reporting of MRSA bloodstream infections and C. difficile infections through the Health Protection Agency's mandatory surveillance scheme are being implemented in 2008.

Among these is the facility for the independent sector (i.e. private hospitals and treatment centres) to report both MRSA bloodstream and C. difficile infections, from January 2008 onwards.

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