Four percent of healthcare workers MRSA-positive

About 4 percent of healthcare workers are infected with some strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, according to a recent voluntary screening of 3,638 clinical and non-patient-care employees.

The researchers at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., sought to determine the prevalence and genotypes of MRSA isolates from various groups of healthcare workers, and to evaluate the effectiveness of eradication therapy with nasal mupirocin, reports Medscape Today.

Of the healthcare whose nasal swabs were analyzed, 4.3 percent were MRSA-positive. Among those involved in direct patient care, 4.6 percent were positive, 75 percent of whom were infected with a healthcare-related strain. Among nonclinical staff, 4.2 percent were positive, with 54 percent carrying a healthcare-related strain.

As for combating the bug, Mupirocin eliminated MRSA in 75 percent of the studied carriers for at least three months. Mupirocin susceptibility testing indicated that 8.9 percent of initial isolates had high-level resistance and 10.3 percent had low-level resistance. Development of resistance was detected among 2.6 percent of those previously treated with Mupirocin.

According to the study's principal investigator, Keith M. Ramsey, MD, finding such a low percentage of healthcare workers who were MRSA-positive was encouraging. And the findings were consistent with similar studies of MRSA carriage among healthcare workers, noted Kerri A. Thom, MD, MS, assistant professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine from the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

However, Thom said that percent of nonclinical workers infected with healthcare-related strains indicated that the bacteria were being transmitted into non-patient-care areas. "This would be unusual based on the current literature," she told Medscape Infectious Diseases.

Thom stressed that all healthcare workers should practice Standard Precautions when caring for patients, to protect both themselves and their patients.

For more information:
- here's the screening abstract
- read the full article in Medscape Today (free reg. req.)