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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus transmission: The possible importance of unrecognized health care worker carriage.

This study was conducted to evaluate the ongoing transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a 10-bed trauma intensive care unit (TICU) in a large teaching hospital. Colonized or infected patients were placed on contact precautions. 19 burn patients were admitted to the TICU after a local mass casualty event. Universal barrier precautions were implemented for all patients, and point-prevalence surveys (nares cultures) were used to detect MRSA acquisition. 58% of the burn patients developed MRSA infection or colonization. Six of 133 health care workers (HCWs) had positive MRSA screening cultures. Seven patients and 4 HCWs harbored the pulsed-field gel electrophoresis clone A. Two patients and 1 HCW harbored clone B. Once the colonized HCWs were successfully decolonized, a sustained reduction in MRSA infections occurred. Transmission of MRSA in an ICU was observed despite various infection control precautions. Identifying and treating colonized HCWs was followed by a significant reduction in the incidence of MRSA. Unrecognized MRSA-colonized HCWs may be an important reservoir in endemic institutions that could impair other control measures. American Journal of Infection Control. 2008;36(2):93-979.

Author: Ben-David D, Mermel LA, Parenteau S

Published: 01/01/2008

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: American Journal of Infection Control.