DoH may miss superbug target

The fight against MRSA infections 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. The target is 642 cases a month, or 963 for the first quarter of the 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 obviously have liked to have seen the trend continued in this quarter and hope that ongoing surveillance will show that this plateau is not indicative of a levelling trend,' she said. 

Despite the disappointing figures, health minister Ann Keen commended NHS staff efforts that have seen the number of MRSA cases fall by 30 per cent since last year.

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

HPA website

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