Blacks, Elderly Disproportionately Affected by MRSA Infection Rates
Blacks and the elderly were among the most likely to contract invasive methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, infections in 2005, according to a study that projected 94,000 U.S. residents developed the infection in 2005, the Chicago Tribune reports. MRSA is an infection that does not respond to traditional treatment with antibiotics, and the report said most of the infections can be traced back to hospitals, nursing homes or medical clinics.
For the study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, CDC researchers led by epidemiologist R. Monina Klevens, examined data from:
- The metropolitan areas of Atlanta; Baltimore; Denver; Portland, Ore.; and San Francisco; and
- Three counties in Minnesota, New York and Tennessee.
The researchers used medical records to confirm invasive MRSA infections and double-checked laboratory results. Earlier CDC research that used administrative data said that about 5,000 people die each year from the infection.
According to the latest study, 32 of every 100,000 residents contracted the infection. Sixty-six of every 100,000 blacks developed the infection, and the rate among black infants younger than age one was four times higher than that of whites. The infection rate for the elderly was 128 infections per 100,000 people, according to the report (Graham, Chicago Tribune, 10/17).
Klevens said blacks likely are more susceptible to the infection because they have higher rates of chronic diseases that require many hospital visits, where the infection can be acquired (Maugh, Los Angeles Times, 10/17). "Infected individuals may then unwittingly spread the bacteria to other household members," the Tribune reports (Chicago Tribune, 10/17). Researchers also found disparities in infection rates based on geographic location, with Baltimore having the highest rate. Klevens recommended conducting further research to determine the causes of the racial and geographical disparities (Sack, New York Times, 10/17). "This is really a call to action for health care facilities to make sure they're doing everything they can to prevent MRSA," Klevens said (Chicago Tribune, 10/17).
The study is available online. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.