MRSA fight extends into the community

MRSA continued to extend its terrifying grip both in and outside healthcare settings during 2008, including the emergence of new strains and more appearances outside of healthcare settings.This year, MRSA increasingly showed up in community settings like schools and sports teams, and a deadly strain also struck men in predominantly gay communities in San Francisco and Boston.

Experts say the spread of MRSA (and other antibiotic-resistant bugs) is inevitable, but aren't quite sure how to contain it. Several studies gave varying answers to the question of whether screening patients would reduce MRSA infection rates, though aggressive screening of health workers was highly recommended.

In the meantime, patient advocates have been fighting to find out what the infection rates were in their area hospitals, and states like Washington started tracking MRSA cases in response. However, California decided just to track community infections and took a drubbing for it. States are likely to remain cautious about such demands for some time to come, unfortunately. Until hospitals get comfortable baring their souls when it comes to infection rates, this is going to be a controversial issue.

Next year might see more progress on the control of MRSA, however. Several promising new ways to fight MRSA infections were discovered this year, including careful monitoring of the use of antibiotics and an experimental antibiotic called oritavancin.