A subset analysis of just bloodstream infections showed even greater decreases: a 34 percent drop in hospital-onset infections, and about a 20 percent decrease in community-onset infections over the four-year period.
The authors of an editorial accompanying the study said that while the findings are encouraging, government surveillance systems should be expanded to more geographical areas and should include all Staphylococcus aureus infections, as well as other important health care-associated pathogens.
"Even if MRSA causes half of all Staph infections, that means that all the other strains of S. aureus are causing the other half, and we need to focus on these infections as well," said co-author Dr. Daniel J. Diekema, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, in Iowa City. Diekema said broadening the surveillance will require a lot more funding, "but we think it will be well worth it in the long run."
Another expert in health care-associated infections said the findings confirm what recent smaller studies have shown.
"We were aware from our own data as well as other regional data presented at meetings that MRSA rates have dropped dramatically, but this population-based study is important because it shows that the decline is occurring across broad geographical regions," said Dr. Daniel J. Sexton, director of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network, a collaboration between Duke University Medical Center and 39 community hospitals located in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
"It's unlikely that any one type of intervention is the reason for the decline, because rates have dropped all across these areas, where people are doing all kinds of different things," Sexton said.
"From the public's point of view, this is great news, because it shows that infecti
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