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Trends and Characteristics of Culture-Confirmed Staphylococcus aureus Infections in a Large U.S. Integrated Health Care Organization

Infections due to Staphylococcus aureus present a significant health problem in the United States. Between 1990 and 2005, there was a dramatic increase in community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), but recent reports suggest that MRSA may be declining. We retrospectively identified S. aureus isolates (n = 133,450) that were obtained from patients in a large integrated health plan between 1 January 1998 and 31 December 2009. Trends over time in MRSA were analyzed, and demographic risk factors for MRSA versus methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) were identified. The percentage of S. aureus isolates that were MRSA increased from 9% to 20% between 1998 and 2001 and from 25% to 49% between 2002 and 2005 and decreased from 49% to 43% between 2006 and 2009. The increase in MRSA was seen in blood and in other bacteriological specimens and occurred in all age and race/ethnicity groups, though it was most pronounced in persons aged 18 to <50 years and African-Americans. Hospital onset infections were the most likely to be MRSA (odds ratio [OR], 1.58; confidence interval [CI], 1.46 to 1.70, compared to community-associated cases), but the largest increase in MRSA was in community-associated infections. Isolates from African-Americans (OR, 1.73; CI, 1.64 to 1.82) and Hispanics (OR, 1.11; CI, 1.06 to 1.16) were more likely to be MRSA than those from whites. After substantial increases between 1998 and 2005 in the proportion of S. aureus isolates that were MRSA, the proportion decreased between 2006 and 2009. Hospital onset S. aureus infections are disproportionately MRSA, as are those among African-Americans.

Authors: Ray GT; Suaya JA; Baxter R

J Clin Microbiol. 2012 Jun;50(6):1950-7. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

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