MRSA rates vary widely in nursing homes

Dec. 3, 2010 at 10:55 PM
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IRVINE, Calif., Dec. 3 (UPI) -- A U.S. researcher finds hope in the wide variance in nursing home residents who carry the bacteria Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Susan Huang of the University of California-Irvine Medical Center says the high overall levels of MRSA are reason for concern but the variation in rates among facilities may be good news.

The study, scheduled to be published in the January issue of Infection Control and Hospital, finds some nursing homes do a better job than others of containing the bacteria once it arrives in their facility. For example, two nursing homes had identical MRSA intake rates of 12 percent, but at one the number of residents carrying the bacteria -- but not necessarily sick -- was 22 percent, while the other had a rate of 42 percent.

"The high overall levels of MRSA are reason for concern," Huang says in a statement. "But the variation in rates between facilities may be good news because it suggests some facilities are finding effective ways to contain the bacteria."

Huang and colleagues determined the rate of residents who carried the bacteria by taking nasal swabs from a sample of 100 residents in each of the 10 California nursing homes. Samples from 50 people upon admittance at each home gave an idea of how much MRSA was coming into each facility.

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