Battle against MRSA at a standstill in England

The fight against MRSA in England appears to have come to a standstill, according to the latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Data for October to December 2007 showed that 1,087 cases of MRSA bloodstream infections were reported. This is a 0.6 per cent increase on the previous quarter, when 1,080 reports were received.

These figures suggest the DoH is unlikely to meet the pledge made in 2004 to halve the number of MRSA infections. This is a target of 963 for the first quarter of this year.

Dr Georgia Duckworth, head of healthcare-associated infection and antimicrobial resistance at the HPA, said that, in general, MRSA cases had been falling over the past year.

'We would have liked the trend to continue and hope that ongoing surveillance will show that this plateau is not indicative of a levelling trend, but we need to see next quarter's figures,' she said.

Health minister Ann Keen commended NHS staff efforts that have resulted in a significant fall in MRSA figures prior to the last reported quarter.

'One case of avoidable infection is one too many and I am challenging the NHS to make full use of the resources at its disposal to eradicate avoidable infections,' she said.

HPA guidelines on how primary care can help tackle cases of MRSA are due to be released.

HPA website

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