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The Role of Colonization Pressure in Nosocomial Transmission of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

Colonised or infected patients are a major reservoir for patient-to-patient transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospitals. Despite attempted adherence to recommended infection prevention and control procedures, a general medicine unit in the study hospital continued to experience ongoing transmission of MRSA. The role that colonisation pressure (CP) plays in nosocomial transmission of MRSA on a general medicine unit was assessed, and a threshold CP above which additional IP&C practices should be implemented was proposed. From January 2005 to December 2006, all patients admitted to a 36-bed general medicine unit were screened on admission for MRSA. Monthly MRSA nosocomial incidence (new nosocomial cases × 1000/susceptible patient-days) and CP (number of MRSA patient-days × 100/total patient-days) were calculated. The relative risk (RR) of MRSA transmission above and below the median CP with 95% confidence interval was calculated. Twenty-one cases of nosocomially acquired MRSA were detected during the study period, with transmission occurring in 8 separate months. The median CP during the 2 years was 6.7%. The RR of MRSA acquisition increased as CP increased above the median (RR, 7.6; 95% CI: 1.1-52.6; P = .008). MRSA outbreaks were declared on 2 separate occasions, and, in each, the CP for the preceding month was greater than the median value of 6.7%. The conclusion was that CP has a significant effect on the subsequent transmission of MRSA on a general medicine unit. Ongoing monitoring of CP provides the opportunity for early implementation of enhanced infection prevention and control practices and can potentially decrease nosocomial transmission of MRSA and prevent outbreaks. AJIC. 2009;37(2):106-10.

Author: Williams V, Callery S, Vearncombe M, et al

Published: 01/03/2009

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: American Journal of Infection Control