Handwashing more important than isolation in controlling MRSA superbug infection

March 31, 2009

Regular handwashing by hospital staff and visitors did more to prevent the spread of the MRSA superbug than isolating infected patients.

At the Society for General Microbiology meeting in Harrogate today (Tuesday 31 March), Dr Peter Wilson from University College Hospital, London, reported on a year-long study in two hospital intensive care units. In the middle six months of the year patients with MRSA were not moved to single rooms or nursed in separate MRSA bays. The rates of cross infection with MRSA were compared to the periods when patients were moved. Patients were tested for MRSA weekly and hand by staff and visitors audited and encouraged. There was no evidence of increased transmission of infection when patients were not moved.

Moving seriously-ill patients when they are identified as having MRSA can be hazardous and it involves ward staff in extra hygiene measures.

MRSA are Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that are resistant to the meticillin class of antibiotics. Many people carry these bacteria and it is generally not harmful if they are healthy. MRSA can cause serious illness in patients with weak or damaged immune systems and the elderly and it is widespread in hospitals. Treatment options are limited and it is vitally important to develop strategies to stop the spread of MRSA in healthcare environments.

"If a patient carrying MRSA is critically ill, moving them to a single room is less of a priority than clinical care," said Dr Wilson. "If the criteria are strictly applied, compliance with hand hygiene practices on intensive care units is less than on a general ward because of the very high number of contacts per hour. Another study is needed in a general ward where a high level of compliance with hand hygiene is easier to achieve."

Source: Society for General Microbiology

Explore further: MRSA in hospital intensive care -- what's growing where?

Related Stories

MRSA in hospital intensive care -- what's growing where?

March 31, 2008

Researchers are finding out which bugs grow in intensive care units to develop a novel sampling regime that would indicate the threat of MRSA and other superbugs in the environment, scientists heard today at the Society for ...

Being an MRSA carrier increases risk of infection and death

July 2, 2008

Patients harboring methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) for long periods of time continue to be at increased risk of MRSA infection and death, according to a new study in the July 15 issue of Clinical Infectious ...

Staph infections carry long-term risks

July 3, 2008

Patients who harbor the highly contagious bacterium causing staph infections can develop serious and sometimes deadly symptoms a year or longer after initial detection, a UC Irvine infectious disease researcher has found.

Cellphones may spread superbugs in hospitals: study

March 6, 2009

Cell phones belonging to hospital staff were found to be tainted with bacteria -- including the drug-resistant MRSA superbug -- and may be a source of hospital-acquired infections, according to study released Friday.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.