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Superbug Infections Down In VA Hospitals Thanks To Veterans Affairs Prevention Initiative

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The Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Health Administration's campaign aimed at limiting the healthcare facility-associated infections (HAIs) of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) still records consistent progress. The rates of the cases recorded with the Staphylococcus have significantly dropped during the period when the research was conducted.

The study, published in January 2016, in the American Journal of Infection Control, suggests that between October 2007 and September 2015 the monthly HAI rates decreased by 87 percent inside intensive care units, by 80.1 percent in non-ICUs, and by 80.9 percent in spinal cord injury units. The rates also recorded a significant decrease in long-term care facilities, where rates dropped by 49.4 percent from July 2009 to September 2015.

MRSA Rates Dropped Significantly

Before 2007, the rates of MRSA HAI were extremely high in VA facilities. In October 2007, the Prevention Initiative was implemented and the program was a success since the beginning. Partial results showed that the rate started dropping immediately after the implementation, reaching a new low in 2012. The present study and the decreasing trend continues to be observed within the regions where the initiative was implemented.

"Understanding how and why rates of MRSA have diminished in recent years is essential for the continued progress of effective prevention programs," noted Martin E. Evans, MD, lead author of the study.

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria found in people's noses. Generally, it is harmless to its hosts; however, it can sometimes cause infections especially in healthcare settings, which can range from serious to deadly. The reason why the Staphylococcus is more dangerous in healthcare settings is that people who usually get there already have their immune systems weaker than the rest of the population, or have been subjected to surgical interventions and have open wounds.

Some of these infections are: bacteremia, pneumonia (which usually affects people with underlying lung conditions), endocarditis, or osteomyelitis.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

In theory, anyone could develop infections due to these bacteria. However, some groups are more prone than others, among which people who already suffer from chronic conditions (such as diabetes, cancer, eczema or lung disease).

A special kind of Staphylococcus aureus is the methicillin-resistant one, which, as the name suggests, does not react to the antibiotics usually administered for this condition, such as beta-lactams. The antibiotics contain methicillin in different forms and quantities, varying from oxacillin to penicillin and amoxicillin.

The condition usually affects skin and it is generally red, swollen, and painful, having pus or other drainage. Many of those infected believe they have been bitten by spiders, as the wound initially looks similar. However, they are strongly advised to address a professional, should anything similar occur.

Having managed to drop the rates of people who suffer from MRSA in such great proportion within the period of time during which the initiative was implemented is a huge success, given how serious this condition can get for the patients. According to the stats, approximately two in 100 people carry MRSA, although there are no data to suggest the total number of people who develop associated infections.

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