MRSA Statistics

Reducing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in both healthcare and community settings continues to be a high priority for the CDC. The agency is engaged in several short- and long-term surveillance (infection tracking) projects that involve collaboration with partners including health departments, individual hospitals, and academic medical centers, among others. Understanding the burden of MRSA – how much is occurring, where it is happening, and how it is being spread – is essential for developing effective prevention programs and measuring their impact.

In 2010, encouraging results from a CDC study published in the Journal of the American Medical AssociationExternal Web Site Icon showed that invasive (life-threatening) MRSA infections in healthcare settings are declining. Invasive MRSA infections that began in hospitals declined 28% from 2005 through 2008. Decreases in infection rates were even bigger for patients with bloodstream infections. In addition, the study showed a 17% drop in invasive MRSA infections that were diagnosed before hospital admissions (community onset) in people with recent exposures to healthcare settings.

This study (or report) complements data from the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) that found rates of MRSA bloodstream infections occurring in hospitalized patients fell nearly 50% from 1997 to 2007.

Taken together and with other reports such as the March 2011 CDC Vital Signs article, these studies provide evidence that rates of invasive MRSA infections in the United States are falling. While MRSA remains an important public health problem and more remains to be done to further decrease risks of developing these infections, this decrease in healthcare-associated MRSA infections is encouraging.

MRSA in the community (people without recent close contact with the healthcare system) typically shows up as infections of the skin. Rates of these infections increased rapidly during the past decade and there is little evidence that the risk of developing community MRSA is following the same downward trend as healthcare-associated infections. Although the majority of these infections are treated without long-term issues, CDC is working to prevent MRSA in the community.

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