Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009


Stories about killer bacteria ravaging locker rooms and nursing homes have made for grabby headlines in recent years. But the truth is that, at least in the highest-risk health care environments, the incidence of life-threatening infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is diminishing. According to a 2009 study, the overall rate of MRSA infections in intensive-care units dropped nearly 50% from 1997 to 2007. That downward trend was true of all bloodstream infections among ICU patients, including infections with strains of staph that can be controlled with antibiotics. Greater vigilance on the part of both hospitals and state health departments in detecting MRSA may be one factor. Improved hygiene and isolation practices have also become more routine.