GPs are vital in the fight against MRSA and could prevent the problem in the UK from worsening, claims an infection expert.
Professor Sally Bloomfield, chairwoman of the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygeine, said that the risk of the 'edges becoming blurred' between community and healthcare-acquired MRSA were very real.
In the worse-case scenario, Staphylococcus aureus carrying the necrotising toxin Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) could spread through-out hospitals if, for example, an unknown carrier was admitted for surgery.
Only around 2 per cent of Staph aureus cases in the UK carry PVL, but experts fear this rate may rise, as is currently happening in parts of the US.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has drawn up a consultation plan to assist with MRSA surveillance, which calls on all GPs to take swabs of recurrent abscesses or necrotising tissue in order to help determine Staph aureus infection.
'It's absolutely vital that we do this,' said Professor Bloomfield.
'The community-acquired strains have developed independently of the hospital strains and we simply don't know who has this.'
The HPA document is out for consultation until the end of February.
HPA consultation, live links at www.healthcarerepublic.com.