As many as 1 in 4 nursing home residents are infected with MRSA — a highly contagious life-threatening staph infection resistant to antibiotic treatment — according to a new study of 26 nursing homes in Orange County, Calif.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, found that more than a quarter of nursing home residents tested were found to carry community-associated MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which spreads easily and causes more severe bacterial infections than those traditionally associated with healthcare facilities.
"Nursing homes need to be part of MRSA control strategies in healthcare facilities," said lead researcher Lyndsey Hudson of the Imperial College of London.
Community-associated MRSA strains don’t originate in healthcare settings, but Hudson's team suggested they may spread easily in nursing homes because of the large number of residents with chronic illnesses who use catheters and other medical devices than can raise the risks of infection. The researchers said they were were surprised at how prevalent the strains turned out to be.
Nearly 840 nursing home residents — of 3,806 whose noses were swabbed for bacterial infections — were found to carry community-associated MRSA.
"These findings support the need for regional approaches to reduce MRSA," said Hudson. Such strategies might include having hospitals and nursing homes work together to identify patients with MRSA, and apply prevention strategies to stop the spread of infection.
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