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Rates of MRSA drop to the lowest recorded in Ireland

However, we still has a “relatively high” prevalence of the infection in comparison to the majority of European countries.

Image: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THERE IS SOME good news for anyone having to visit a hospital in Ireland this year: the rate of reported cases of MRSA is currently at the lowest recorded in the country – and is continuing to decline.

The latest figures released by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre, which has collected data on MRSA cases since 1999, show that the number of people infected with the bacterium has steadily dropped over the past few years.

What is MRSA?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a strain of Staphylococcus aureus (SAU) which has developed resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics, including penicillin. Because it has antibiotic resistance, the bacterium causes several difficult-to-treat infections – which is why it is referred to as a “superbug”.

Staphylococcus aureus (SAU) itself is usually harmless to people, although it can cause infections ranging from mild complaints (eg boils) to more severe problems (eg infection of the bloodstream).

MRSA in Ireland: decreasing but still ‘relatively high’

Although figures show that the overall trend in the proportion of MRSA observed in Ireland is decreasing, it still remains “relatively high” when compared to rates of infection in much of Europe.

In the European context, Ireland ranked 9th out of 28 countries reporting MRSA rates to the European Centre for Disease Protection, EARS-Net – bringing it to a comparable level with the UK or Southern European countries, according to the report.

Conversely, the lowest rates recorded were seen in the Netherlands and Nordic countries.

The HSE has identified the public and private acute hospitals that show the highest prevalence of MRSA and infection from Q1 – Q3 2011. They include:

  • Beaumont Hospital (23 MRSA infections, 83 SAU infections)
  • Cork University Hopsital (20 MRSA infections, 62 SAU infections)
  • St Vincent’s University Hospital, Elm Park (19 MRSA infections, 58 SAU infections)
  • Galway University Hospitals (16 MRSA infections, 45 SAU infections)

In total, 206 cases of MRSA were recorded in Ireland during the first nine months of 2011.

Read: Antibiotics for treating mastitis in cows was ’cause of new MRSA variant’>

Read: Researchers discover new form of MRSA superbug in two Dublin hospitals>

Read: Superbugs evolving faster than medicine, worried experts warn>

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