MRSA has gone global

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 10, 2006

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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is the most commonly identified antibiotic-resistant pathogen in many parts of the world, including Europe, north Africa, the Middle East and east Asia, according to the authors of a review published online June 21 in The Lancet.

MRSA rates have been increasing worldwide for the past decades, the authors say. Even in the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands, where rates had been fairly low and stable for many years, the frequency is beginning to rise.

Of the expected two billion individuals carrying S. aureus worldwide, conservative estimates based on either Dutch or U.S. prevalence figures indicate that between two million and 52 million carry MRSA, they said.

The authors also warn of community-acquired MRSA. Genetic changes in strains of community acquired MRSA had led to the evolution of "fitter" strains that combine antimicrobial resistance with transmissibility and virulence. If these strains are sufficiently fit to maintain a high prevalence in the community, the MRSA situation in hospitals could become potentially explosive, they warn.

"The onus is therefore on health-care authorities to develop not only surveillance systems that are able to monitor the clonal dynamics of MRSA over wide geographical areas but also to provide the resources for early recognition of MRSA carriers through rapid screening," they conclude.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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