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21-07-2010 | General practice | Article

MRSA, C. diff infections drop by a third


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Annual figures published by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show significant reductions in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile infections for England and Wales.

Total cases of MRSA reported for the period April 2009 to March 2010 fell by 35%, from 2935 in the previous year to 1898. Similarly, there has been a 29% reduction in C. difficile cases, from 36,095 in the previous year to 25,604.

"We have again observed an impressive reduction in the total number of both MRSA and C. difficile infections and this is a credit to the hard work of our colleagues in the National Health Service (NHS)," says Dr Christine McCartney, executive lead for the HPA Healthcare Associated and Antimicrobial Resistance programme.

"But we must not be complacent. Healthcare workers and the general public must remain vigilant at all times."

The figures show that, of 1898 MRSA cases reported, 53% occurred in patients presumed to have been infected during their present hospital stay - referred to as 'trust apportioned cases'. A similar rate was seen for C. difficile, at 52% of cases.

The remaining patients may have presented to a GP or directly to a hospital with the infection or been resident in a care-home when infected.

The findings reinforce the need "to practice common sense infection control and good hygiene measures at all times and not just when visiting friends and family in hospital", says Dr McCartney.

The Department of Health (DoH) is publishing weekly MRSA and C. difficile data for each hospital site, which is available on and

"This move to greater transparency will encourage service providers to continue to reduce infections, leading to better patient outcomes, as well as savings for the NHS," said a DoH spokesperson.

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Caroline Price