A 2005 study showed that the annual rate of community-acquired MRSA infection — cases occurring in people with no recent hospital or nursing home stays — ranged from 18 cases per 100,000 people in Baltimore to 26 cases per 100,000 people in Atlanta.
Since then, there has been a dramatic increase in cases, and studies suggest that community-acquired infections are often contained within households, according to Knox’s colleague, Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, MD, of Columbia University.
However, the source of these infections has been unclear.
So Knox and colleagues compared the households of 146 people who came to the hospital to be treated for community-acquired MRSA infections to a comparison group of households of 145 dental clinic patients.
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Patients completed a questionnaire about themselves and household members. Also, nasal swabs were collected from consenting household members, and household items were swabbed. Swabs were cultured for staph bacteria.
Among the findings:
58% of household members of people with MRSA infections tested positive for staph vs. 37% of those in the other homes.
Identical MRSA strains were found among two or more members of the household in 38% of “hospital-treated” households vs. 18% of the comparison households.
Common household items tested positive for the same strain of MRSA as the patient in half of “hospital-treated” households vs. less than one-third of comparison households.
So what should you do to minimize the risk of MRSA spreading in your household?
Practice good hand washing techniques, says Catherine Bennett, PhD, head of the School of Health and Social Development at the
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